Support for taking the MCAS

MCAS is the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

  • This is an academic achievement test that everyone in public school in Massachusetts must take. They take it in elementary years and again in 10th grade.

  • It tests the student's knowledge of core subjects like Math, English Language Arts, and Science to make sure they have have the basic knowledge needed to graduate.

  • Students have to pass this in order to graduate high school.

  • It also tests the school and the school district to make sure they are teaching effectively.

Students with IEPs can often get accommodations for taking the MCAS.This can help them to get a score that reflects what they know.


  • These are changes to the test conditions to help students with disabilities take the test.

  • They may include extra time to take the test, using a computer or other device to listen and write answers, or taking the test in a private room with less distraction.

  • The type of accommodation depends on a student's needs.

Here's what you can do:

  • Make sure that test accommodations are written into your child's IEP or 504 plan. Talk to your IEP team about this before 10th grade.

  • Know when the MCAS will happen. Talk to your IEP team ahead of time and make sure your child's accommodations will be in place.

  • Talk to your child ahead of time and help them be ready. You know them best: what will help them to be least stressed? A good night of sleep and a good breakfast are always a good start!

Here is a list of examples of accommodations your child could get when taking the MCAS:

  • Frequent breaks

  • Taking the test at a certain time of day or familiar location

  • Taking the test in a small group or individually

  • Noise buffers to prevent distractions

  • Having instructions read aloud

  • Verbal guidance from test administrator to help stay on track ("Please pay attention to the test"..."make sure you've answered all the questions...")

  • Speech-to-text software or a personal scribe to write answers

  • Special graphic organizers or checklists

Remember that these accommodations must be written into your child's IEP or 504 plan! Make sure this is done well before the test.

For a complete list:
  1. Go to this link:

  2. Click on the document called "Accessibility and Accommodations Manual for the 2018-2019 MCAS Tests/Retests". It looks like this: screen shot of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assesment System website where the Word docuemnt icon is beside the text: Accessibility and Accommodations Manual for the 2018-2019 MCAS Tests/Retests.

  3. See pages 13-23

Source: Mass Dept. of Elementary & Secondary Education

Source: MA DOE