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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Extensions to Spring 2011 MCAS Testing Windows for Grades 3-8

To: Superintendents, Principals, and Directors of Charter Schools, Approved Private Special Education Schools, Educational Collaboratives, Special Education in Institutional Settings, and Alternative Adult/External Diploma Programs
From: Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date: February 18, 2011

stopline

In light of the winter we are experiencing and the weather-related school closings that have occurred, I have received a number of inquiries about delaying the spring MCAS test administration. In response to these inquiries, I have explored with our testing company the possibilities for rescheduling or extending the testing windows and the consequences of doing so. Unfortunately, our options are very limited.

Delaying the MCAS administration by one or two weeks (as some have requested) has three downsides. First, the contractor would have to employ trainers and lead scorers who have not been responsible for MCAS scoring in past years, because those who have worked on the MCAS in past years are scheduled for other testing programs over the remainder of the spring. Using new trainers and lead scorers would jeopardize the integrity of the MCAS results. Second, the cost to the state would be over $1 million, since the contractor would have to locate an alternative site for the scoring of constructed response items. The site we use is reserved for the remainder of the spring to score other states' and districts' tests. Third, not every district is interested in delaying the MCAS administration.

Having explored our options, we have determined that we can extend the window for MCAS testing in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) for grades 3-8 by two days. In addition, we are extending the deadline to submit MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) portfolios. The highlights of the revised schedule are shown in the table below. These extensions allow us to use our scheduled scoring sites as well as the trainers and lead scorers who are familiar with the MCAS, thus avoiding the downsides of moving the testing window by one or two weeks.

Test Administration ORIGINAL Dates NEW Dates
March-April
ELA grades 3-8 only
End of window:    April 4
Deadline for pickup:    April 6
End of window:    April 6
Deadline for pickup:    April 7
May
Math and STE
grades 3-8 only
End of window:    May 24
Deadline for pickup:    May 26
End of window:    May 26
Deadline for pickup:    May 27
MCAS-Alt
All grades
Deadline to submit portfolios:    April 1 Deadline to submit portfolios:    April 5
Please note that any MCAS test materials that are not returned to Measured Progress by the deadlines may not be scored in time for June reporting.

The addition of these days to the testing schedule will allow principals who seek extra instructional days to begin testing later in the window. Please note that the last two days in the extended test window may be used only to complete make-up testing. Also, please note that the prescribed administration and return dates for the high school ELA, Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering tests have not changed.

I encourage principals, particularly those in high schools and in districts that have not experienced numerous weather-related school closings, to complete their MCAS ELA testing as soon as possible. This will enable our MCAS testing contractor to begin the process of scoring compositions on time.

For your convenience, a revised version of the entire MCAS/MEPA calendar is available at http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/cal.html. If you have questions about the information in this memorandum, please contact the Office of Student Assessment at 781-338-3625.

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