Sunday, June 18, 2017

2017 MCAS Reporting Conference Call- June 26th

Training Sessions Currently Being Offered

Below is a list of current training opportunities offered by the Office of Student Assessment Services. Register for a session by clicking the link in the "Training Dates and Registration Link" column below.
Test(s)TopicsTraining Dates and Registration LinkAudience
MCAS Grades 3-8 and High School Tests
Reporting Conference Call for Spring 2017

Preliminary MCAS Results

During the MCAS reporting call, Department staff will discuss the first release of preliminary "raw" MCAS data, including updates to Next-Generation reporting for grades 3-8 English Language Arts, math, and legacy results for high school and for grades 5 and 8 STE. Topics will include:
  • full preliminary results for grade 10 ELA
  • state percent correct on selected response (multiple-choice) items for grades 3-8 ELA, grades 3-8 and 10 math, and grades 5 and 8 STE
  • a review of new variables in the MCAS csv file (posted to DropBoxes)
  • new achievement measures on Next-Generation MCAS (available in October)
  • reporting timelines for August preliminary results and the official public release in October

The Department will post a Power Point presentation for the call in DropBoxes and at the MCAS Service Center. There will be an opportunity to ask questions during the call.
Conference call session: 
June 26, 10:00–11:30 a.m.
Principals and MCAS test coordinators

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Survey: Feedback on First Year of MCAS Computer-Based Testing

Opportunity to Give Input on First Year of Computer-Based Testing
Individuals who were involved in spring 2017 MCAS computer-based testing are invited to share input with the Department by completing this survey. Your feedback is welcome, and surveys will be collected through Friday, June 30. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Material to be Assessed on 2018 Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS Tests:

The Department has released information regarding the "overlapping" standards from the 2001/2006 and 2016 science and technology/engineering standards that will be assessed on the 2018 MCAS grade 5 and grade 8 science and technology/engineering tests. The 2018 tests will consist of items that align to both sets of standards. As a reminder, this year's test (2017) is based on the 2001/2006 science and technology/engineering standards.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Communication Survey

The Department is working to improve communication with school districts, parents, policymakers, and the general public. Please take two minutes to complete this survey. The feedback will help inform ESE's communication strategy.

Friday, June 2, 2017

2017 ACCESS Data Now Available

Schools and districts received their printed ACCESS reports on Wednesday, May 31st, and access to their electronic reports on WIDA AMS.  2017 ACCESS test results will be posted electronically to the Department's Security Portal dropbox the week of June 12, and entered into Edwin reports (EL327 and EL627) the week of June 26.  More information on the release of ACCESS data can be found here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

VISTA 2017 Educator Survey Results Now Available

Superintendents from 57% of MA districts and principals from 52% of schools participated in this year's VISTA survey.  The survey provides valuable feedback to the Department on a range of areas, including resources, grants and support to districts and schools.  An executive summary and full results are now available online.  A webinar discussing the survey results will take place June 8th at 3:30pm.  To participate in the webinar, send an email to with the subject line "VISTA 2017 Webinar."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Massachusetts Survey on Personalized Learning:

The Department is partnering with the LearnLaunch Institute on the Massachusetts Personalized Learning Edtech Consortium (MAPLE) to catalyze the adoption of personalized learning in the Commonwealth. To that end, MAPLE is surveying districts to get a general overview of where they stand with respect to personalized learning.

The voluntary survey will be open through May 31 and should take no more than 20 minutes. The consortium is hoping for a significant participation rate in order to understand needs and opportunities to support districts' work. Respondents are asked to fill out as much as they have time to complete. Answers will be kept anonymous, and responses will be summarized. No district will be identified in reports.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Equity Plan Update

The Department has released an update to its 2015 equity plan. The 2017 Massachusetts State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators includes data the state must report under federal law and is designed to address gaps in students' access to strong educators, particularly students who are economically disadvantaged, students of color, English learners and students with disabilities.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Update on Summer Standard-Setting Panel

As a reminder, ESE is looking for panelists with content expertise, familiarity with the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, and, in most cases, direct teaching experience in the grade and subject matter chosen.  More information, including details on stipends and reimbursements, is available online. Applications are due Friday, May 19

Stipends will be offered to all panelists selected to serve during the standard-setting event this summer. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ESE Research Update, released April 2017

An update of recent research conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is now available on their website and includes:

  • Turnaround Practices Field Guide
  • Results from a 2016 educators survey
  • Low-Income student calculation study
  • and research on Massachusetts' education policy.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Next Generation MCAS Testing Update

The April update of the Next Generation MCAS is now available online.  The update differs from the Student Assessment Newsletter, and includes a teacher video on testing, an update on the administration of the assessment, and information on Rhode Island's review of the new MCAS assessment as a possibility to replace their own state summative assessment.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Educators Needed for MCAS Standard Setting Panel

Beginning August 14, 2017, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will conduct a week-long standard setting event for the next-generation MCAS tests in grades 3–8 ELA and mathematics. The standard setting will be conducted by panels of Massachusetts educators and other stakeholders, working in coordination with expert facilitators. We are pleased to invite educators and stakeholders from across the state to apply to participate on one of these panels.

Panelists will be organized into six committees: grades 3–4 ELA, grades 5–6 ELA, grades 7–8 ELA, grades 3–4 mathematics, grades 5–6 mathematics, and grades 7–8 mathematics. Each panel will consist of 20–24 members, divided into tables of 4–5 panelists, one of which will serve as a table leader.

More information, including the application and online survey, can be found here:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SEI Surveys

The Department is surveying teachers and administrators in order to collect the data that will inform future sheltered English immersion projects and guidance. Each survey will prompt the reader to share the instructional planning processes and instructional practices that they commonly use or observe. The surveys are anonymous. The teacher survey is for SEI educators, coaches and specialists. District and school leadership – please take the administrator survey.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Special Education Leadership Institutes

The Department's Special Education Planning and Policy unit is working with three contractors to offer training for special education district leadership staff. Each leadership institute is free, will start in July or August, and will have at least 62 contact hours over the course of the school year. The institutes offer opportunities to apply concepts of systemic change, to better understand legal requirements and the implementation of evidence-based practices for creating inclusive environments, and to network.

 The four Special Education Leadership Institutes are organized by audience as follows, and more information is available at the links provided:
1.       Experienced special education directors, provided by WestEd. 
2.       New special education directors (less than five years experience), provided by ACCEPT Collaborative.  
4.       Special education team leader, provided by the Collaborative for Educational Services.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

School Climate Questionnaire Included with MCAS:

For the last 15 years, the 8th and 10th grade MCAS exams have included questionnaires that generally focused on academics and students' classroom experience. This year, the fifth, eighth and tenth grade MCAS exams include a questionnaire focused on school climate. One of ESE’s strategic priorities is to support students’ social-emotional learning, health, and safety, and the agency is piloting the school climate questionnaire as a way to collect more information on those areas. Students' responses to the questionnaire do not affect their MCAS scores, and students are free to answer all, some, or none of the questions on the questionnaire. Afrequently asked questions document about the questionnaire is posted online. Parents who would like to see the questionnaire should contact their principal or superintendent.

District and school leaders who would like more information on this year’s MCAS questionnaire project can contact Shelagh Peoples of the Office and Planning Research at

Monday, April 10, 2017

HS Dropout Analysis Data Now Available

Last week the Department released its updated high school Dropout Analysis tool for 2015-16.  Data is available for schools and districts with a minimum of 20 dropouts in the 2015-16 school year.  The analysis provides both aggregate and subgroup data across a range of indicators, including: attendance, course performance, behavior, demographics, age, Mass Core completion, and course credits.  The tool is intended to be used to determine the size of particular groups of dropouts for strategic planning and intervention purposes.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Key Changes to Educator Evaluation Data

Last month the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to amend educator evaluation regulations.  The amendment, which was based on public comments, removes one of the student impact ratings.  Teachers will no longer be asked to make a judgement about their impact on student learning (e.g. high, moderate or low), however student learning impact is still included as an indicator within the evaluation framework's four standards.

To learn more about these and other changes to the educator evaluation regulations, you can read the more detailed memo from Commissioner Mitchell Chester:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Board Approves New MCAS Performance Level Descriptors

Last week, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the revised descriptors for the new Next Generation MCAS assessment performance levels.  Scores will fall into the following four categories: Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, Not Meeting Expectations.

The legacy grade 10 MCAS will continue to use the existing descriptors (Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, Warning) until the Next Generation grade 10 MCAS is adopted.

More information on the new descriptors can be found here:

Friday, March 31, 2017

Reminder to Administer an Infrastructure Trial (CBT)

The infrastructure trial acts as a “dry run” to prepare for computer-based testing by simulating testday network utilization and administration protocols. This will help to confirm that TestNav is configured to run successfully on student devices, the network is functioning as expected, and that staff and students are familiar with assessment features and protocols. 
The Department strongly recommends running an infrastructure trial prior to live testing. Information on conducting an infrastructure trial, including the Guide to the Infrastructure Trial, can be found here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Digital Literacy and Computer Science Framework Implementation Panel

The Department is seeking 30-35 stakeholders to serve on the Digital Literacy and Computer Science Framework Implementation Panel that will help districts implement the 2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science Framework by making recommendations on licensing, professional development, and communications needs related to the plan. To apply to serve on the panel, please take this survey before Friday, April 7, 2017.   

Panel members could be:
·         educators who teach computer science or digital literacy at the elementary, secondary, or collegiate level;
·         educators of students with disabilities or of English learners; 
·         educators who have incorporated digital literacy or computer science into other subjects;
·         district and school administrators;
·         community members, parents, librarians, and others who help support students' computer science and digital literacy skills;
·         business representatives who hire and train employees in computer science and related fields; and
·         researchers in computer science and digital literacy. 

The panel will meet for 10 full days in Waltham between May 2017 and April 2018, and up to seven of those days could be regularly scheduled school days. School district employees should ensure their administrator supports their participation before applying. Pending funding, panelists will be awarded professional development points, stipends for summer work, and reimbursement for substitutes and travel. For more information, contact Anne DeMallie.

Friday, March 24, 2017

ACCESS for ELLs Data Validation Window for Paper- and Computer-Based Tests

From March 27-April 5, data validation will be required for schools that administered ACCESS tests. In preparation for reporting accurate 2017 ACCESS results, test coordinators will be asked to log on to WIDA AMS to review and, if necessary, correct any discrepancies in their student data. Data corrections made after the April 5 deadline will be available only at school or district expense. The procedure for correcting your school’s student records is available in the ELL Assessment Update: Data Validation for Paper-Based and Computer-Based ACCESS for ELLsPlease contact Student Assessment Services with any questions about ACCESS for ELLs testing at or by phone at 781-338-3625.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Pilot on Early Childhood Data

The Department is looking for districts and schools to participate in a pilot program of a potential data element that would collect information on incoming kindergarten students' early childhood experience. The pilot will run from April through October and will help ESE determine the feasibility of including such an element in future Student Information Management System (SIMS) data collections. The Department has scheduled two hour-long conference calls for people interested in learning more about the data pilot and what participation would entail. The calls will be at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, 2017 and 11 a.m. on Friday, March 24, and participants are asked to register in advance for the call they wish to join.

Anyone with questions can reach out to Jane Haltiwanger in the Office of Student and Family Support or 781-338-6314.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Test Administration Manuals Available to Download

Spring 2017 MCAS test administration manuals for principals and test administrators are now available on the Department’s website. New for 2017, there are separate manuals for the high school tests and for the grades 3–8 tests. For grades 3–8, there is one Test Administrator’s Manual (TAM) for computer-based testing and two TAMs for paper-based testing (the grades 4–8 PBT TAM includes instructions for the grades 5 and 8 STE tests, but the grade 3 TAM does not). High school manuals are posted here, and grades 3–8 manuals can be found here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Massachusetts Analysis of Dropout Data Tool: 2014-15

MA DESE has developed an Excel tool to support the analysis of grade 9-12 dropouts.  This tool, available on the department's College and Career Readiness page, allows districts to analyze the characteristics of dropouts during the 2014-15 year, including age, demographics, and enrollment data.  The tool provides data on each of those early warning ABC factors- attendance, behavior and course accumulation- which research has shown to be key predictors of student success in high school.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Preliminary Timeline for Next-Generation MCAS Data Released

The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released a preliminary timeline for the release of assessment data from the Spring 2017 Next Generation MCAS for grades 3-8 in ELA and math.  As a new test, the data may be delayed due to the standards-setting process for identifying the thresholds for each achievement level.  At this time, the Department plans to release multiple-choice results to districts in June,  fully preliminary results in August, and results to parents in October.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

MA First in the Nation for AP Results

MA topped the U.S. this year for the number of students achieving a Level 3 or higher on Advanced Placement (AP) exams- a first for the state!  MA also celebrates the highest five and ten year growth in the percentage of graduates earning a 3 or higher.  Approximately 44.1% of MA class of 2016 took at least one AP exam.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress Training Sessions

Registration for the MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress training sessions is now available for teachers who are conducting the MCAS-Alt in their schools. Please encourage teachers to attend one of the sessions listed below. All sessions are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
Wednesday, March 8
ThursdayMarch 9
FridayMarch 10
Best Western
Holiday Inn
Note: The “Introduction to MCAS-Alt” session will not be offered.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Additional Practice Tests Added to the MCAS Resource Center

New and additional resources are now available on the MCAS Resource Center to support students and teachers in becoming familiar with the Next Generation test design:

  • ELA practice sessions, with answers and scoring rubrics.  One practice session is currently available for grades 3-8 as a paper and online version.
  • Math practice sessions, with answers and scoring rubrics.  Two practice sessions are currently available for grades 3-8 as paper and online versions.
  • Text-to-speech math practice sessions were recently added in grades 3, 6 and 7.  Additional text-to-speech practice sessions for math grades 4, 5 and 8 are on the way, as well as text-to-speech practice sessions in ELA.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Edwin Analytics Cheat Sheet

Unsure which Edwin report will answer your data query?  Not sure where to find it?  Visit the Edwin Analytics- Report Cheat Sheet, located on the right-hand side of the Edwin homepage.  This document provides an overview of the available data captured in Edwin, and where to find it!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Next Generation MCAS Practice Tests Now Available

Next Generation MCAS Practice Tests are now available online, on a rolling basis.  ELA computer-based practice tests are currently available for grades 3-6.  Additional grades as well as math computer-based practice tests will be added in the coming weeks.  Paper-based practice tests, scoring rubrics and answer keys are currently available for ELA and math, grades 3-8 and 10, and science grades 5, 8 and high school.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Online Modules and Upcoming Trainings Available on the MCAS Resource Website

Training modules are now available on the MCAS Resource Center website (the direct URL is Modules are being posted as available. At this time, we recommend that schools view the two in the “Modules to Assist with Pre-Administration Tasks” section at the top of the screen: the first module in this section is relevant for the March retest process, and the last module in this section is for schools completing the SR/PNP for grades 3–8 and 10.

Monday, January 23, 2017

New MCAS Resource Center

The MCAS Resource Center is now available online and includes access to:

  • Pearson Access Next, 
  • Technology Setup,  
  • Test Administration Materials
  • Training Modules
  • Student Tutorial & Practice Tests
  • and a MCAS Service Center

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

DESE's Instructional Support Annual Convening

On February 14th, and repeated on February 15th, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be holding their annual Instructional Support Convening.  Registration begins at 7:30, with programs starting at 8:30am at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Marlborough, MA.  To register and learn more information about the convening click here.  Registration ends tomorrow, January 18, 2017.

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Computer-Based MCAS Administration Resource Available

The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has recently released a guide for administering the Spring computer-based MCAS assessment in grades 3-8.  The resource is available for download on the Student Assessment Update website.  The Principal's Administration Manual will follow.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Massachusetts Focus Academy Courses for 2017

The Massachusetts FOCUS Academy (MFA) is offering 10 graduate level online or hybrid courses for Spring Semester 2017.    Courses begin the week of February 27, 2017 and end the week of June 12, 2017.  These courses are at no cost to eligible districts.  Priority will be given to teams in Level 3 districts, or districts identified by the Special Education Planning and Policy Development Office as a result of special education indicator data.
FOCUS Academy Courses Spring 2017:
1. Assessment of Students with Disabilities who are ELLs
2. Assessment of Students with Disabilities who are ELLs II- Case Studies
3. Collaborative Co-teaching: Meeting the Needs of All Students
4. Creating and Sustaining Positive School-Wide Learning Environments
5. Differentiated Instruction
6. Partnering with Families of Middle and High School Students with Disabilities
7. Partnering with Families of Preschool and Elementary School Students with Disabilities
8. UDL: Addressing Learning Variability 101
9. UDL: Mathematics Instruction 201
10. UDL: Student Affect andEngagement 201

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Technology Skills for Computer-Based Testing

As schools prepare students to take the MCAS computer-based test for some grades, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed a list of the technology skills students will need to complete the assessment.  These skills include navigating the online assessment, inputting responses, using the digital math tools, and using the universal accessibility features, if desired.  This list can be found on the Student Assessment Update webpage, along with the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards.