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MCAS Changes Explained; Gretchen Petersen, Chief Operating Officer

13 Mar 2019 8:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

There have been some questions regarding the differences between the traditional Legacy MCAS and the Next-Generation MCAS tests. The following information, from the DESE website, explains the differences in testing as well as scoring. In general, the new standards for 'Meeting Expectations' are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the 'Proficient' level on the legacy MCAS, and the computer-based format is new for our students. Because of these changes, we anticipate a difference in scores compared to previous years. Please know that all students have participated in tutorials and practice tests in preparation for this change.

How are the computer based next-generation MCAS tests different from traditional Legacy MCAS tests?

  • In spring 2019, assessments in grades 3–8 and 10 in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics and grades 5 & 8 science and technology/engineering (STE) are next-generation MCAS. Those will be reported using the next-generation achievement levels. The other remaining assessment, high school STE, will be reported using legacy achievement levels until it transitions to next-generation.
  • Next-generation tests are designed to assess students' critical thinking skills, as well as signal students' readiness for success in college or a career after high school.
  • Next-generation tests will include existing MCAS questions, questions developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), and new questions developed specifically for the new test.
  • Next-generation tests will primarily be computer-based tests. Computer-based test questions can include richer content and a greater range of accessibility features; tests have the potential to be scored more quickly and at a lower cost; and computer-based testing reflects the reality that students in the 21st century are using technology in their classrooms and their daily lives.
  • Next-generation tests will include writing on the ELA test in every grade; in the past, MCAS tests included a separate composition test in grades 4, 7, and IO only.
  • Student performance will be reported using the same process as the traditional MCAS tests: students will receive a scaled score and an achievement level for each next-generation test they take. These results will be included on reports for parents/guardians.


Learning Prep School provides an individualized language-based program to students with complex learning profiles, including dyslexia, expressive/receptive language issues, autism spectrum disorder, and social communication disorder.

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