What state tests will my child take?

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs): State exam
The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and alternate assessment Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and also meet federal and state legislative requirements. Students take one test in each subject. Most students take the MCA, but students who receive special education services and meet eligibility requirements may take the alternate assessment MTAS instead. 

Minnesota’s statewide tests are objective, standardized measures of student achievement on academic or proficiency standards. Students, families, teachers and administrators use statewide test results as part of a comprehensive system for evaluating learning.

The list below shows tests by subject along with the grades they are given in parentheses behind each subject.
Reading: MCA or MTAS (grades 3-8, 10)
Mathematics: MCA or MTAS (grades 3-8, 11)
Science: MCA or MTAS (grades 5, 8, and high school)

Tests are given each spring, in March-May (Computer delivered).

Questions are primarily multiple choice with expectations for students to apply knowledge and demonstrate higher-level thinking.

Students taking online / computerized tests are presented with information visually on a computer and via audio headphones; they respond using a keyboard and a mouse.

When do I receive the results on how my child performed?
Testing is used in schools to measure student achievement. State tests are given to students in a district once a year, based on their grade level and subject area. Classroom tests are given by individual teachers on a more regular basis and may include quizzes, mid-terms, chapter tests, and final exams, among others. Both types of tests give educators an idea of how well their students are learning the concepts presented to them in the classroom.

State testing information (data) by district or school can be found using the Minnesota Report Card, http://rc.education.state.mn.us/. Educators can use this testing information to adjust their instruction to increase how well their students retain what is being taught. 

MCA results are released to school districts typically around the end of August. Parents receive results in the fall of each school year in the form of an Individual Student Report.
My child is in special education. Will s/he be tested?
Yes. Students enrolled in Special Education are required by federal and state law to participate in all state accountability assessments, with or without accommodations, as specified in an IEP. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) team may determine that a modified standard is required due to the nature of a child’s disability.
My child is an English Language Learner (ELL) . Will s/he be tested?
English Language Learners are required to participate in all state accountability MCA exams. Students are expected to read and respond in English. MCA math and science exams are computer tests and have audio options available. In addition to ESSA testing, ELL students are required to participate in federally mandated English proficiency exams. These tests (ACCESS fo ELLs) in reading, writing, and speaking and listening occur over a period of days in March.

The ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs are the assessments developed by the WIDA consortium and administered to English learners in order to measure progress toward meeting Minnesota’s standards for English language development, developed by the WIDA consortium. Most English learners will take the ACCESS for ELLs, but English learners who received special education services and meet the participation guidelines may take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. 
What College and Career Readiness tests will be administered?
Districts have a number of requirements to fulfill for students’ career and college planning for students. This includes offering students in grades 11 or 12 an opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized college entrance exam (ACT or SAT) on a school day. 

All Grade 11 students in St. Charles have the option to take the ACT Plus Writing test in April of each school year. 
Things to Consider:
  • The primary purpose of the MCA, MTAS, and ACCESS for ELLs is to measure the success of instruction based on the Minnesota Academic Standards and the Minnesota Standards for English Language Development. Assessment results can be used to determine whether all students are mastering key content knowledge and language proficiency and attaining the skills necessary for future success in education and the workforce. Administrators and teachers can use the results to pinpoint possible gaps in instruction and redirect curriculum and instruction activities accordingly. 
  • Performance on the MCA is a strong predictor of future ACT performance as well as the need for remedial coursework in college.
  • Parents should not be concerned that statewide assessment results are the sole basis of student retention, promotion, or curriculum decisions. Districts and schools are to use the results as only one part of the comprehensive information they have about students and their performance.
  • MCA and MTAS results are used to determine school and district accountability, which are used to help identify schools that need additional support as well as recognize schools that are demonstrating high performance. 
This information is taken form the Minnesota Department of Education Website.  https://education.mn.gov/mde/fam/tests/

Contact: Gretchen Hoffman