Middle School MCAS Testing Approaches

March 17, 2017 5:33 pm

The MCAS schedule is as follows:
4/3-4/4 Grades 5 and 6 English/Language Arts
4/5 Grade 5 English/Language Arts
4/6-4/7 Grades 7 and 8 English/Language Arts
4/10-4/11 Grades 5 and 6 Mathematics
4/12-4/13 Grades 7 and 8 Mathematics
4/25 & 4/27 Grades 5 and 8 Science/Technology/Engineering

We are aware that some of the testing dates coincide with Passover. While there is a designated MCAS window statewide, we were hesitant to move MCAS further into May for a few key reasons. We have to ensure all of our students that have been absent can make up testing during the state window. Additionally, we are balancing needs to not draw out the testing schedule into May when students will be preparing for jury presentations. For families celebrating Passover, please know absences will be excused and students will make up testing when they return to school. Additionally, another option for families celebrating Passover could be dismissing their child after testing finishes for the morning. Please reach out to Melissa Kapeckas directly to plan any dismissals during testing. The DESE is very clear that student use of cellphones during testing (even if they are finished with their test) will result in an invalidated score.

There are some noteworthy changes about testing on the state level to make you aware of:
-All public school students are now taking the “next generation” MCAS. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) updated the MCAS to ensure a match to the current standards with a focus on critical thinking skills. It is a blend of previous MCAS questions, PARCC questions, and newly created questions.
-Massachusetts is phasing in computer-based testing over the next few years. Students in Grade 8 will take their MCAS Math and ELA tests on a computer-based platform this year.
-The statewide schedule has changed. Instead of 2 distinct rounds of testing (in March and May), there is one testing window that begins in April.
-Unlike PARCC, MCAS tests are untimed. Any student that needs extended time to finish will have it available.

As you may remember, we have had one all school practice session in English/Language Arts thus far and will have one more on March 23rd. Given the nature of the class schedule, students typically move through the steps of the writing process in chunks. This extended practice session allows students to practice moving through the steps of the writing process from start to finish. Related to computer-based testing, all eighth graders will do a tutorial to familiarize themselves with the TestNav computer-based testing platform as part of the English/Language Arts practice test on March 23rd. If you’d like to see the TestNav tutorial and/or review computer-based or paper-based practice tests, they are available at this website: http://mcas.pearsonsupport.com/tutorial/

Families often ask us what they can do at home to help their child be prepared and do their best on the day of the exam. Please be sure your child is well rested and eats a healthy breakfast on testing days. Remind your child that the tests are not timed and s/he is well prepared for the exams. We want our students to remember to go back into the passages as they work through the tests and to check all of their work prior to finishing. Be certain to arrive to school on time. Once a testing session has begun, students who are tardy are not permitted to enter the testing room. If you have any questions about MCAS testing, please do not hesitate to contact me at mkapeckas@innovationcharter.org or 978-649-0432 x 2229.