Message from Superintendent: Spring 2018 MCAS

Message from Superintendent: Spring 2018 MCAS
Posted on 04/06/2018
March 27, 2018

Dear CPS Families,

Every spring, students in grades 3-10 across the state participate in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science, Technology and Engineering (STE). These assessments are intended to measure how well students are learning in relation to grade-level expectations, which are defined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. These Frameworks emphasize the critical thinking skills that students need to be successful in the 21st century.

Can students opt out of taking MCAS? Participation in MCAS is required by state and federal laws, and therefore, students may not opt out of testing. MCAS is considered a mandatory part of the curriculum, and to reinforce the importance of measuring the learning of all students, the state’s accountability system will penalize schools and districts where MCAS participation rates are too low.

How will students be taking MCAS? Students in grades 4, 5, 7, and 8 will be taking the MCAS on the computer, with the goal of all grades transitioning to computer-based testing by spring 2019.

How do schools help students prepare for MCAS testing? The purpose of MCAS testing is to measure learning that takes place year-round. Schools provide “practice runs” of MCAS testing to ensure that students are familiar with question types and the computerized testing format. Practice tests can be found online at http://mcas.pearsonsupport.com/student/. Teachers have been thoughtful about how to best incorporate these resources into their classroom instruction.

What about students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELLs)? The state has set extensive testing guidelines for English Learners and for students with disabilities who are on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan. District and school staff know these guidelines and will ensure that all accommodations are followed so that students can be accurately assessed on their skills and learning.

How will MCAS scores impact my student and my school? MCAS scores are released by the state and sent to families every fall. These scores have no impact on individual students in grades 3-8, and should only be viewed as one source of information about a student’s academic progress. In high school, MCAS scores factor into the requirements for receiving a high school degree. Please know that school staff actively work to support students and minimize any stress they may feel surrounding MCAS.

We know how much incredible work goes into teaching and learning every day in CPS and we are confident that our students are well prepared. Thank you for being continued partners with us in this important work.

Sincerely,

Kenneth N. Salim
Superintendent of Schools

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