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Spring is time for MCA testing

By John Alberts

Albert Lea Schools Director of Educational Services

Each spring it happens. The snow melts. The grass turns green. Robins begin appearing. And thousands of students in the Austin Public Schools, as well across the state, participate in statewide testing.

These tests, called the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs, are a way that individual student performance is evaluated as well as school and district performance. These assessments are given in the area of reading to third- through eighth-graders and 10th-graders, mathematics to grades three through eight and 11, and science to grades five, eight and at the high school level during the year that students take Biology. MCAs are aligned to content standards in the respective content assessed, and as standards are updated, the assessments are updated to match. These updates are reflected in a Roman numeral following the MCA.

In reading, the assessment given currently is the MCA-II or second revision of the MCA. Next year, the state will administer the MCA-III in reading as the standards have been changed. Also, the way in which students are assessed has changed as well. This will be the case with this year’s MCA-III in mathematics. The math MCA-III will be given online for the second year in a row, however, as opposed to past testing, students will be given up to three opportunities from February to March to record a proficient score.

Additionally, as students complete the assessment, teachers will receive immediate feedback in terms of the achievement level attained and how the student scored by math strand. This gives the teacher an opportunity to identify areas of student need and target those areas for additional instruction prior to the next opportunity. For high school students, the assessments continue to be paper/pencil as they also contain a GRAD (Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma) component. Every student in

Minnesota must pass the GRAD in writing in grade nine, reading in grade 10, and mathematics in grade 11 to receive a diploma. All of these assessments are intended to measure the progress of all students and ultimately help ensure their success.