Standardized Test Prep in Massachusetts
Standardized tests serve as one of the primary benchmarks of student educational progress in the U.S. While educators and families have differing views on their necessity and efficacy, they remain a core tool for measuring academic achievement. The Massachusetts state test program is called the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System). All students must pass MCAS tests in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science to receive a diploma from a Massachusetts public high school.
On this page you will learn more about Massachusetts standardized testing, including the types of tests required, testing dates, and the grade levels targeted. You’ll also learn how you can help your child prepare for standardized tests in Massachusetts.
What State Tests Are Available in Massachusetts?
Each Massachusetts standardized test option is part of the overall Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. Results for the tests place students within four different achievement levels: Not Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, Meeting Expectations, and Exceeding Expectations.
Below are the primary tests your student will encounter within the public school system in Massachusetts:
- ELA and Mathematics – Students in grades 3-8 will take computerized assessments in the spring of each school year. The English language arts portion of the test will assess progress in reading, language and writing. The Math portion of the test will assess progress in operations, algebraic thinking, measurement & data, geometry, ratios & proportional relationships, the number system, and statistics and probability (depending on the grade level of the student).
- Science & Technology/Engineering – In grades 5 and 8, students will be assessed on their knowledge of earth & space science, physical science, life science, and technology/engineering.
- ELA Grade 10 – The grade 10 ELA test is administered in two sessions over two days. The question types are a combination of selected response and essay questions assessing a student’s performance in reading, language, and writing. Students must meet a minimum passing standard score on the test to graduate, but retests are allowed.
- Mathematics Grade 10 – The grade 10 Mathematics test is administered in two sessions. Question types include multiple choice, multiple select, drag-and-drop, short answer/fill-in-the-blank, and constructed response. Skill categories assessed on the test include number & quantity, algebra & functions, geometry, and statistics & probability. Students must meet a minimum passing standard score on the test to graduate, but retests are allowed.
- STE High School – High School students take a Science and Technology/Engineering test in biology, chemistry, introductory physics, or technology/engineering. Students must meet a minimum passing standard score on the test to graduate, but retests are allowed.
- ACCESS for ELL – English learners in grades K-12 are assessed annually to measure their proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking English, as well as the progress they are making in learning English.
- MCAS Alternate Assessment – Students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take the MCAS even with accommodations are eligible for the MCAS Alternate Assessment. MCAS-Alt consists of a portfolio of specific materials collected annually by the teacher and student.
There are no state-mandated consequences for students in grades 3-8 who’s parents chose to opt them out of standardized testing. However, students in 10th grade are not able to opt-out as they must pass the MCAS tests in English language arts and mathematics and a high school science end-of-course MCAS test in order to graduate.
When is Standardized Testing in Massachusetts?
The general Massachusetts state test schedule is as follows:
- MCAS for Grades 3-8 – Spring
- MCAS High School ELA and Mathematics – Spring
- MCAS High School STE – Spring
- ACCESS for ELL – Winter
- MCAS Alternate Assessment – varies by school district
- Students in grades 11 and 12 who need ELA or Mathematics retests will complete those in the Fall
Do Homeschoolers Have To Take Standardized Tests in Massachusetts?
According to the Massachusetts Home Learning Association, homeschool families in Massachusetts “are neither required nor entitled to take the MCAS tests, which are designed to measure the academic progress of students enrolled in publicly-supported schools and the performance of those schools.” However, that does not mean that a MA homeschooler should not participate in standardized testing.
Homeschool laws in Massachusetts require that parents provide annual “proof of educational progress.” One of the acceptable methods of this verification is via a standardized test. Even though homeschoolers aren’t eligible to take the MCAS tests, families who choose this evaluation method can take advantage of private testing options.
How Time4Learning Can Help With Massachusetts Test Prep
Many families use Time4Learning’s standards-based curriculum to help students prepare for standardized tests. With Time4Learning, students can improve critical skills through structured lessons and activities that correlate to educational standards that standardized tests are built around.
Some of the ways that you can use the curriculum for Massachusetts state test prep include:
- The combination of multimedia lessons, worksheets, interactive practice activities and assessments means that students develop not just exposure to, but mastery of the concepts they will encounter on MCAS ELA and Mathematics tests.
- Members have access to Time4MathFacts, a game-based learning system that helps early and upper elementary students master math facts, which feature heavily in all normed tests.
- Innovative online-interactive activities and hands-on offline activities powered by Science4Us build a solid foundation in the STEM skills that students will be tested on during science and technology assessments.
- Multimedia instruction in subjects like algebra, geometry, and trigonometry can improve scores for 10th graders taking the MCAS.
- Time4Learning members are able to work at their own pace and repeat any lesson as many times as they feel is necessary–helping ELL students to thoroughly understand and master a subject before moving on.
- As an IBCCES Certified Autism Resource, students with special needs also benefit from our program.
The software is a game changer!
“…she leaped ahead of her peers on her state test when returned to public school, we used it during homebound when there was a mismedication, and use it now as a supplement for a teacher that refuses to teach.”