This page is intended to be a resources to teachers and districts as they plan for the implementation of Next Generation MCAS. As more information becomes available from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, it will be posted here. In most cases, direct links to documents available on the DESE's website will be provided. 

The DESE has established several working groups to explore issues related to the development of Next-Gen MCAS.  Links to the proposals/recommendations from these working groups will be included below as they become available.

NOTE: Recommendations are preliminary findings of the working group. Final policy will be released after commissioner's approval.

All of the documents linked on this website come from the DESE's webpages on Next-Gen MCAS.

Monthly MCAS Next-Gen Updates from the DESE Available Online

MCAS Next Gen Practice Assessments!  (Computer-Based versions via TestNav)

January 2017 Updates



5-MCAS Test Administration Update.pdf

6-Public Feedback on Next-Generation MCAS Achievement Level.pdf


8-Digital Learning Update 011717.pdf

PDFs of Presentations from the Winter Conference 2017 - MCAS Next Generation

Proposed Changes to ELA and Math Standards Available for Public Comment:

Last week, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to release for public comment new drafts of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts and Literacy and Mathematics. Comments may be made through February 17, 2017 through an online survey. Educators interested in learning more about the proposed changes are encouraged to check out the English language arts and literacy and math standards review page on ESE’s website or sign up for one of ESE's Office Hours sessions during the comment period.

Update from the DESE sent to ATMIM Members on 7/16/2016:


Next-generation MCAS contract notice


The vendor selection committee has determined that Measured Progress’ proposal best meets the Commonwealth's requirements, including:

·         Their general plan

·         Management and staffing qualifications

·         Corporate and technical capacity

·         Online test delivery and management platform

·         Proposed budget

·         Their ability to carry out the optional tasks and future directions described in the procurement

·         Cost


The assessment contract notice is online. Scroll down to “Notice of Intent to Award” in the File Attachments section. American Institutes for Research (AIR) and  Measured Progress submitted bids for the next-generation MCAS project. The 12-member vendor selection committee included Department staff, representatives from Massachusetts school districts, and representatives from Massachusetts public higher education.


Phase-in Plan for Computer-Based MCAS Testing


After consultation with the Test Administration Workgroup and other stakeholders, the Department has decided to implement a gradual transition plan to phase in computer-based testing. We hope this will make the transition more manageable for school and district staff. Here are the details:


· For next year’s tests (spring 2017), our expectation is that all schools will administer the computer-based versions of the ELA and math tests in grades 4 and 8.[1]

· The Department’s Office of Digital Learning will provide consultation and support for schools that anticipate difficulty in meeting this requirement. In exceptional circumstances, we will waive the spring 2017 requirement if the school has made a good-faith effort to comply and has a plan for getting on track by spring 2018.

· For grades 3, 5, 6, and 7, schools may elect either the computer-based or the paper-based tests next spring. We strongly encourage districts to implement the computer-based version in as many additional grades as possible. The Board’s “hold harmless” policy with respect to school level determinations next year provides a good opportunity for students, teachers, and administrators to gain experience with computer-based testing.

· Paper versions of all tests will always be available as an accommodation as required by a student’s individualized education program (IEP). We also anticipate setting up a process for principals to request a paper-based test accommodation for a small number of students who do not have IEPs but who are unable to take a computer-based test for other reasons.

· We are currently considering a transition in grades 5 and 7 to full computer-based testing in spring 2018, followed by grades 3 and 6 in spring 2019. We’ll finalize this schedule after the 2017 test administration and after plans for high school testing are finalized.


It is the Department’s intention to develop a test that is compatible with most of the devices in common use in schools, including tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, and desktop computers. In the coming weeks, we will be finalizing our selection of the next-generation MCAS testing contractor. After that is completed, we will provide additional details regarding the technical specifications for networks and devices. Additionally, we plan to announce funding opportunities for infrastructure upgrades later this summer.


Department staff in our Office of Digital Learning ( and in Student Assessment Services ( are available to answer questions from districts and provide additional assistance.

(End of Update)


Background Information

Commissioner's Recommendation Memorandum

This link opens up the Commissioner's memo to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education recommending the creation of MCAS 2.0. It is a long document, but well worth it. The commissioner outlines his rationale for Next-Gen MCAS and provides a framework for what  NExt-Gen MCAS will look like including computer-based testing, high school graduation requirements, PARCC items versus MCAS items, and releasing exams.

MCAS 2.0 Bid Documents for a Testing Vendor

The State's contract with Measured Progress, the current vendor for the MCAS exam, expires this year. The state has released a bidding document for a new test vendor. 

Accessibility / Accommodations

Accessibility Working Group Summary

This document outlines the recommendations for accessibility of the exam for students with disabilities, ELL students, and the general population of students taking the exam. The report addresses both paper-based and computer-based accommodations.

High School Testing Plans and Graduation Requirements

High School Testing Working Group Recommendations

This document includes 3 varying proposals for the high school exams to be developed as part of MCAS 2.0. Included is the implementation of a new exam in history/civics following the redevelopment of the state frameworks in history currently underway. You are encouraged to thoroughly explore the 3 testing options presented by this committee, and, in particular, the impact on mathematics testing. 

Test Administration Workgroup

Test Administration Workgroup Recommendations

This set of recommendations addresses things such as testing windows and scheduling, phasing in of computer-based testing, professional development, etc.

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