Questions and Answers about the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments
What are the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs)?
These are tests Minnesota schools give every year to measure student performance on our state standards. These standards outline what our students should know and do in a particular grade.
Why Do We Give These tests?
We use the MCAs to find out how well students have learned the Minnesota Academic Standards in mathematics, reading and science. The mathematics and reading assessments are also used to determine whether schools and districts have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward the ESEA goal of all students being proficient.
Schools use the information from these tests to improve teaching and learning. Teachers and principals look for areas where students do well. They can reinforce the ways they teach these skills. They also look for areas that need improvement. They may alter the ways they teach these areas, or they may increase the time they give to them.
The MCAs also follow Minnesota’s rules for testing and the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Who Must Take These Tests?
Minnesota’s rules for testing and the federal ESEA require that mathematics and reading tests be given in grades 3–8, and high school (students in grade 10 take the Reading MCA and students in grade 11 take the Mathematics MCA). With very few exceptions, all public school students in the above grades take the Mathematics and Reading MCAs.
The Science MCA is given to students in grades 5 and 8 and in the high school grade when they take a life science course.
Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan may be eligible for accommodations. Some students may be eligible to take the MCA-Modified, an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards in mathematics and reading. Other students with significant cognitive disabilities may be eligible to take the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards in mathematics, reading and science. See the Alternate Assessment Eligibility Requirements on the MDE website for more information.
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