Every spring, students across the state participate in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), which are tests that measure the degree to which students are learning the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks relative to the expectations for each grade level.
  • Federal and state law require students in grades 3 - 8 and grade 10 to participate in statewide testing in math, English language arts (ELA), and science, technology, and engineering (STE).

  • Passing MCAS in ELA, math, and STE is also a state requirement for high school graduation.

  • Families receive MCAS reports in the fall which provide information on how your child did on the MCAS, in comparison to the school, district and state, and in each "reporting category" such as life sciences, geometry or reading.
  • All students with disabilities are required to participate in scheduled testing for their grade. Students with significant disabilities who are unable to take the standard MCAS tests have the option of participating in MCAS-Alt. 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.

  • All English Learner (EL) students, except those who are in their first year of enrollment in the US school system, must participate in all MCAS testing scheduled for their grade. Federal and state law also require EL students to participate in the ACCESS for ELLs, which is an assessment used to measure student proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking English

The state has made a number of changes to the Spring 2021 MCAS.

Spring 2021 FAQ

Key facts:

  • Federal and state law require all students in grades 3 - 8 to take the MCAS is English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, and students in grades 5 and 8 in Science, Technology & Engineering (STE)

  • Passing MCAS in ELA, math, and STE is also a state requirement for high school graduation. The state has waived this requirement for the Class of 2021 and is expected to extend this policy to the Class of 2022 at a meeting on April 20.

  • Remote learners in grades 3 - 8 will take MCAS remotely and remote learners in high school will take MCAS in-person. More details expected soon.

  • The state has shortened this year’s MCAS tests in grades 3-8, which are expected to take 1 - 1.5 hours in math and STE and 2 - 2.5 hours in ELA.

  • There will be no negative impact to students in grades 3 - 8 based on their MCAS results or a family’s refusal to participate.

  • This year, the state will not use MCAS participation rates or results to penalize schools or districts.

  • CPS uses a range of assessment tools to understand student progress and areas of need.

Letters to Families

Information from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)


CPS Assessment Information

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