The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and alternate assessment, Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), are the statewide tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota's academic standards and meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Students take one test in each subject. Most students take the MCA, but students who receive special education services and meet eligibility criteria may take the MTAS.
The list below shows tests by subject and the grades they are given:
- Reading: MCA or MTAS (grades 3-8, 10)
- Mathematics: MCA or MTAS (grades 3-8, 11)
- Science: MCA or MTAS (grades 5, 8, and once in high school)
Career and College Readiness
Per the MDE, districts have a number of requirements to fulfill for students’ career and college planning for students in 8th grade and later. This includes offering students in 11th and 12th grades an opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized college entrance exam (ACT or SAT) on a school day.
English Language Proficiency Accountability Assessments
The ACCESS 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.
The state’s test window is March 2 – May 8. Test preparation suggestions are included in the document below, provided by the Minnesota Department of Education.
Test Security Information
As part of a culture of academic integrity, we would like to remind families and students of the importance of test security and the expectation that students will keep test content secure and act with honesty and integrity during the administration of state assessments. The district expects students to do the following:
- Students should do their own best work to show what they know and can do.
- Students should not accept help finding answers to test items.
- Students should not give answers to other students.
- Students should not tell others what is on the test.
- There may be consequences if students do not follow directions or if they behave dishonestly.
Students may NOT use cell phones, wearable technology (e.g., smart watches, fitness trackers) or any other electronic device (except the school owned device being used for testing) at any time during testing, including during breaks. Students are not to use these devices even when testing is completed. If school wide testing is scheduled for a block of time, devices should not be used during that block of time, even if that student has completed their testing.
Test monitors are expected to inform students that they cannot receive or view calls, texts, or alerts during test administration. If a student has a cell phone or other electronic device in a testing room, the following procedures will be followed:
- Student must turn cell phone (or other device) OFF (not just silenced as personal alarms could still be active).
- Student is given an envelope. The envelope must cover the contents of the phone (device) – it cannot be clear.
- Student places phone (device) in envelope, seals the envelope and stores the envelope where it will be inaccessible during testing.
- If a student receives a notification (e.g., ringtone, vibration) during testing, the students must hand the phone (device) (which should be in an envelope) to the Test Monitor.
Students also may not wear or access wearable technology during testing if the device can electronically send or receive information. If one of these devices is worn during testing, the student’s test must be invalidated because the device is visible and accessible, regardless of whether it was used or not.
Test Security Concerns
If you have any concerns about suspected incidents of cheating or other improper or unethical behavior on statewide assessments, you can report that information to your student's school principal; the district’s Research, Evaluation and Assessment department (REA@rdale.org or 763-504-8103); or by submitting the District Test Security Report.
Maintaining the integrity of tests and test items is of great importance to the Minnesota Department of Education. Improper or unethical behavior by students or educators undermines the validity of test score interpretation. Please report suspected incidents of cheating or piracy of test items using the Minnesota Statewide Test Security Tip Line or by contacting the Minnesota Department of Education (firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-582-8674)
Frequently Asked Questions: Why Statewide Test Results Matter
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. Answers to frequently asked questions explain the purpose for statewide testing and why it is important to ensure the integrity of test scores can be found in the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) FAQ document linked below.
Student Participation in Statewide Assessments
Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.31, subdivision 4a, requires the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to publish a form for families to complete if they refuse to have their student participate in state-required standardized assessments. The MDE Guide linked below provides some basic information to help families make informed decisions that benefit their student, their school and community. The form to meet this legislative requirement is available at the link below; it must be returned to your student's school.