Massachusetts State Assessments

Massachusetts administers the following assessments which are used for accountability:

Current Assessments

PARCC – (piloted through about half of districts in MA)

MCAS-Alt - MCAS Alternative Assessment

ACCESS for ELLs - Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners

COP - Certificate of Occupational Proficiency 

VCTCS - Vocational Technical Competency Tracking System 

Older Assessments

MEPA - Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment

Common Core Consortium and Transition Plan

MA Board of Education voted to opt out of PARCC on 11/17/15.

As part of Massachusetts' two-year "test drive" of the PARCC, the Department asked school districts to choose whether to administer MCAS or PARCC tests in English Language Arts and Mathematics to students in grades 3-8 spring 2015. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote whether the state should adopt PARCC later in 2015.

As of Oct 2014 deadline the districts are split half and half on testing so we will most likely have to have support for both tests for ELA and Math in Grades 3-8. All districts will continue to administer the grades 5, 8, and high school MCAS Science and Technology/Engineering tests. Districts will also continue using the MCAS-Alt for students designated for alternate assessment. The three high school MCAS tests (grade 10 English Language Arts, grade 10 Mathematics and high school Science and Technology/Engineering) will be administered as a graduation requirement through the class of 2019.


How are records matched to students in Illuminate?

2014-2015 and 2013-2014:

  • 1st: SASID (8) to State Student ID

How are unique records identified?

2014-2015 and 2013-2014: SASID (8) only

MCAS - Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is designed to meet the requirements of the Education Reform Law of 1993. This law specifies that the testing program must:

  • Test all public school students in Massachusetts, including students with disabilities and English Language Learner students;
  • Measure performance based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework learning standards;
  • Report on the performance of individual students, schools, and districts.

As required by the Education Reform Law, students must pass the grade 10 tests in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and one of the four high school Science and Technology Engineering tests as one condition of eligibility for a high school diploma (in addition to fulfilling local requirements). This requirement is still in effect with the transition to PARCC for students until 2019 graduating class.

In addition, the MCAS program is used to hold schools and districts accountable, on a yearly basis, for the progress they have made toward the objective of the No Child Left Behind Law that all students be proficient in Reading and Mathematics by 2014.


Subjects Tested

  • English Language Arts

  • Mathematics

  • Science and Technology/Engineering

Grade Levels

  • 3-8,10 (ELA)

  • 3-8, 10 (Math)
  • 5,8,10 (Science.  Grade 10 Science is one of the End of Course science tests below)
  • End of Course Science Tests (Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics, Technology/Engineering)


  • November : ELA/Math Retest
  • February : HS Biology Test
  • March : ELA/Math Retest
  • March - April : ELA Grades 3-8, 10
  • May : Math/Science (3-8,10)/(5-8)
  • June : Science High School

Attached is an assessment schedule for the 14-15 and 15-16 academic years which are subject to change with the transition to PARCC. 

Performance Levels are called Performance Levels in Massachusetts. The Scale Score ranges are the same across all subjects and grade levels (200-280) which allows one to compare performance between test administrations but not between performance levels. The MCAS also has a SGP (Student Growth Percentile) for ELA and Math tests which is an important measure that users would also like to report on.

Terminology used for clusters: Clusters for MCAS are called "Reporting Categories".  The Reporting Category scores are not included in the test results and need to be generated from a test map and the item response data.  The test map is built from the data located here.  The test design includes the reporting categories for ELA, Math, and Science. There are state averages for the item response data which can be aggregated to generate averages for the reporting categories as well.

This section includes fields that would be used for reporting purposes and information about the import job built in Illuminate for this dataset. Here is the Illuminate Import Spec used to build the import. The above tables are available for MCAS.

There is a Test Status field (mcas_yyyy_subject_testStatus) which contains the following values:

  • T = tested

  • TR = tested Retake

  • NTA = not tested absence

  • NTM = not tested medically documented absence

  • NTO = not tested other

  • NTL = not tested first-year ELL student

The clusters for the MCAS follow the naming convention:

  • mcas_yyyy_subject_cluster#RawScore (Raw Score for Reporting Category)
  • mcas_yyyy_subject_cluster#NumberPossible (Number Possible for Reporting Category)
  • mcas_yyyy_subject_cluster#PercentCorrect (Percent Correct for Reporting Category)
  • mcas_yyyy_subject_cluster#Text (Reporting Category Name)
  • mcas_yyyy_subject_cluster#Average (Reporting Category State Average)

Attached are some other documents for: