State making changes to MCAS, ACCESS testing for local school systems

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced changes to spring MCAS and ACCESS testing for students.

The return from winter break is the start of federal and state-mandated student assessments including the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and the ACCESS language proficiency test.

According to a letter from DESE Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley, the shift to remote learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuation of hybrid learning has led to “significant learning loss for students around the country.”

“Parents especially want to know what this pandemic has done to their child’s education and I think we owe it to them to find out,” Riley told Boston 25 News.

For this reason, the department is taking steps to modify testing in the spring.

Riley said his office is also examining the potential for remote students to take the MCAS from home.

For this reason, the department is taking steps to modify testing in the spring.

Competency Determination for the Class of 2021

  • The make-up MCAS administration window for 12th graders scheduled to open on January 14th will be postponed
  • Commissioner Riley will recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the requirement be modified in language arts and mathematics for students in the Class of 2021 who have not yet earned their competency determination

Shortened MCAS testing time for Grades 3 - 8

  • DESE will reduce testing time for students in grades 3 - 8 through a session sampling approach
  • Each student will take only a portion of each MCAS assessment in each subject

Accountability Relief

  • Commissioner Riley will not recommend any new underperforming districts or schools in the upcoming school year

Extension of the ACCESS testing window

  • The window for ACCESS testing has been extended from February until May 20, 2021

MCAS Biology Test

  • Schools may offer the biology MCAS to first-time 9th-grade students in June, instead of or in addition to offering it in February

The full letter from Commissioner Riley can be read below:

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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