Student and School Assessment (MCAS Administration)

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is the standardized test Massachusetts students take from third through eighth grade as well as in tenth grade. To graduate high school, students must pass the 10th grade MCAS mathematics, English, and science tests. Funding for Student and School Assessment supports state administration of these exams. While MCAS takes a large portion of the testing administration budget, the state also implements other tests, including several for English and Occupational Proficiency.

MCAS was designed to meet the standards adopted in the Education Reform Act of 1993. Administration of standardized tests requires drafting questions, ensuring the content matches the curriculum taught in schools, keeping materials secure, and grading student responses. MCAS is also used to hold school districts accountable to standards established by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This law had been known in recent years as the No Child Left Behind Act, but was updated by the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

In 2015, state education officials decided to create a new version of the MCAS test (commonly known as MCAS 2.0) which will blend material from the existing MCAS and the computer-based Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) exam. There is already some overlap between these two tests because Massachusetts had already revised its math and English standards to match the Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards are based on national efforts of multiple states that resulted in the development of common multi-state standards and new assessments including PARCC.

In 2015 and 2016 school districts had the option to take MCAS or PARCC. Starting in 2017, all students will be tested on MCAS 2.0. Developing a hybrid test has the advantage of giving Massachusetts more flexibility, because PARCC is administered by an outside national board (but which currently includes the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education). However, the hybrid test has additional design and implementation costs for the state.

Updated July 2016

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