Standardized Tests in Massachusetts
About the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS)
If you have a child in elementary, middle or high school in Massachusetts, then you need to know about the standardized tests your child will be taking. To comply with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, Massachusetts administers standardized tests to students beginning in 3rd grade through high school.
Time4Learning, an online education service that teaches many of the skills these exams test, offers this page to help you understand Massachusetts’s standardized tests and how you can help your children prepare.
All students in 3rd through 8th grade, as well as 10th grade, take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) in English language arts and math, while students in 5th and 8th grade also take a science test. The MCAS is a standards-based test, which means that test items are based on grade-specific Massachusetts academic content standards.
Students in 10th and 11th grade who are enrolled in biology, chemistry, introductory physics and technology/engineering classes also take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System Science and Technology/Engineering Tests (MCAS STE), which are end-of-course tests.
What do the MCAS Test Scores Mean?
For the MCAS, students will receive one of four scores for each subject area tested:
- Advanced/Above Proficient
- Needs Improvement
Tenth grade students must pass the MCAS English language arts and math tests to graduate. Previously, students needed a score of at least 220 (needs improvement) to graduate, but beginning with the class of 2010, the minimum score requirement for both tests increases to 240 (proficient). Alternatively, students who score between 220 and 238 can complete an Educational Proficiency Plan to fulfill the graduation requirements.
Beginning with the class of 2010, students are also required to pass at least one MCAS STE with a score of 220 or higher to receive their high school diploma. Students who do not pass the tests the first time can retake them on multiple occasions as needed to pass.
Preparing for Massachusetts’ MCAS Tests
For general tips on test preparation, please visit our standardized test overview page. The real preparation for the MCAS and all standardized tests that assess a wide range of fundamental skills, is to steadily build and master skills in math, reading and writing fundamentals.
Parents can help students succeed in school by making a special effort to get involved in their children’s education. You should ensure your children are doing their homework every night and reading and writing on a daily basis. In addition, families can hire tutors or use online learning programs such as Time4Learning and Time4Writing to supplement their children’s schoolwork and help to build fundamental skills.
To help your children prepare for state standardized tests such as Massachusetts’ MCAS, you can enroll your children in a test prep program or buy books to help them become familiar with test formats and terminology, to learn test-taking strategies (when to guess, when not to), to become comfortable with time restrictions, and to practice answering different types of questions.
For instance, when a reading passage is followed by comprehension questions, many test prep programs teach students to scan the questions prior to reading the passage so that they can pay special attention to the areas addressed by questions.
Most states release copies of tests or sample test questions from previous years. Parents can use these released test questions as resources to help students practice test skills and students can spend the majority of their time reviewing the key concepts within the sample test questions.
Time4Learning is not a test prep program; instead, it is a program that builds the skills that will be tested.
Time4Learning is a new approach that takes advantage of today’s technology. It’s a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun educational teaching games.
The online language arts and math curriculum comprise a comprehensive program for preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Science and social studies programs are provided as a free bonus for most grades.
Kids like using the computer to learn and to develop their skills. Time4Learning’s educational teaching games give students independence as they progress at their own pace.
Parents like that it tracks progress and helps kids advance by teaching through individualized learning paths that assure mastery of the skills and concepts that makes kids succeed.
Have a child with math and reading skills at different grade levels? No problem, just tell us in the online registration process.
Time4Learning is proven effective, has a low monthly price, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can be sure that it works for your family, risk free!
For more information or resources on the MCAS and Massachusetts education, visit:
Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education
Massachusetts Homeschooling Information