MCAS FAQs

Which grades are required to participate in MCAS?
Students educated with Massachusetts public funds in grades 3-8 and 10 are required by federal laws, the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Law, and state law M. G. L. Chapter 69, section 1I, to participate in statewide testing.

Are English Learner (EL) students also required to participate?

Yes. With the exception of EL students who are in their first year of enrollment in the US school system, all EL students must participate in all MCAS testing scheduled for their grade. Additionally, in compliance with federal and state laws, all EL students must participate in the ACCESS for ELLs tests.

What is ACCESS for ELLs?
Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs) is an assessment used to measure student proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking English. It is administered annually from January-February.

Are students with disabilities also required to participate?

Yes. All students with disabilities are required to participate in scheduled testing for their grade. Students with significant disabilities have the option of participating in MCAS-Alt if they are unable to take the standard MCAS tests.

What is MCAS-Alt?
Students may take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) if they cannot participate in the standard MCAS tests with accommodations, due to the severity of their disability. MCAS-Alt consists of a portfolio of materials collected throughout the year by students and their teachers. Whether or not a student will participate in MCAS-Alt needs to be determined by each student’s IEP or 504 team prior to the upcoming year. For more information on MCAS-Alt, please refer to DESE’s website.
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