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Download Printable Summary of the Massachusetts MCAS
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Beginning in 1993, the Education Reform Law instituted a policy by which all students attending schools that receive public funds must participate in the statewide given assessment. The Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks were developed to provide learning goals and objectives to schools and teachers establishing what all children in each grade should know and be able to do.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is the required state assessment. The test questions are aligned to the learning goals of the Curriculum Frameworks. The test is developed and given to ensure that the teaching and learning objectives in the Curriculum Framework are being met.
The types of questions on the MCAS are as follows:
Multiple-choice – This format is on all the MCAS assessments except the English Language Arts Composition assessment. The multiple-choice questions are scored by a machine.
Short-answer – This type of question is found on the Mathematics assessments. These qustions ask students to write a brief response either using numbers or words. These responses are scored by two different human scorers.
Short-response – This question type is only found on the grade 3 English Language Arts test and ask students to write a short response to reading comprehension questions.
Open-response – These questions are found on all MCAS assessments except the English Language Arts Composition assessment. They ask students to generate a response rather than choose a response. The response may be written or in the form of a diagram, chart, table, etc. These questions are scored by human scorers on a scale of 0-4.
Writing prompts – This type of question is included only on the English Language Arts Composition assessment. The expectations for student requiring cover the areas of topic development and Standard English conventions. These are graded by human scorers; topic development scores are based on a six point scale and English conventions are based on a four point scale.
Students begin taking the MCAS in the 3rd grade. Students are required to take the test every year from their 3rd grade year through high school. Graduation requirements necessitate that a student has passed their 10th grade English Language Arts and Mathematics assessments in addition to one of four Science and Technology Engineering exams. High school age students take the English Language Arts and Mathematics assessments in November. The Science and Technology Engineering assessments are given in February. Elementary and Middle School age students take the MCAS in March.