State delays MCAS exams, alters testing schedules as coronavirus case counts spike across Mass.

The testing window for ACCESS tests has also been extended by several months.

With COVID-19 cases mounting across the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education told school officials in a memo Monday that it would postpone and extend the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System testing, which is a graduation requirement for students. 

A special administration of the MCAS exam was originally scheduled for January and February, but now high school juniors will take their MCAS ELA and mathematics tests later in the year, according to a message DESE officials sent districts Monday. 

High school seniors and adult test-takers, on the other hand, will still be eligible to participate in one or both tests to earn their “competency determination,” the department wrote in its memo. The testing window for those eligible students will open on Jan. 14, and has been extended through Feb. 12, giving schools an additional week to complete testing. 

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The department said the changes were made “in recognition of the scheduling and logistical challenges that schools and districts are experiencing.” 

The testing window for ACCESS tests has also been extended by several months. With the new update, schools will be allowed to perform ACCESS tests between Jan. 7 and May 20, 2021. 

While the timeframe has been elongated, the department noted that all results will be returned at the same time in late summer, regardless of when tests were administered. 

“I appreciate the effort that schools and districts have made to prepare their facilities and students for testing,” the statement from DESE read. “The statewide testing schedule will be updated shortly to reflect the changes indicated above, and I will provide more information in the coming weeks about testing schedules for the remainder of the school year.”

The unsigned announcement from the state comes nearly a month after the Lynn School Committee sent a petition to the department calling for it to suspend spring MCAS testing this school year as well. 

When in-person classes morphed into remote learning last spring, MCAS testing requirements were waived. Yet the exam is still scheduled to be administered this April and May, according to a Sept. 29 announcement from the department.

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The Massachusetts Teachers Association last month also urged residents to reach out to community officials and legislators to cancel testing this year and waive the MCAS requirement that current high school seniors must pass the test before graduating in the spring. 


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