Alternate Assessments


The MTAS provides a snapshot of student learning of the academic standards.

Minnesota's alternate assessment, the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), is the standards-based accountability assessment designed for, and limited to, students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. It is designed to measure student progress toward Minnesota's academic standards and meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Students who receive special education services and meet the eligibility criteria may take the MTAS. 

The MTAS will be transitioning over to a new assessment in each subject area as new academic standards are implemented.

With the transition to new academic standards, MDE is developing the Alternate MCA, a redesigned alternate assessment that will replace the MTAS. The timeline for the first administration of the Science Alternate MCA is school year 2024–25, Reading Alternate MCA is school year 2025–26, and Mathematics Alternate MCA is still to be determined based on the standards revision schedule.

The resources below support educators in understanding the changes with the transition from the MTAS to the Alternate MCA.

  • MTAS 2023 Informational Meeting - This presentation describes some changes to the format of the assessment as we transition to the Alternate MCA. It describes the format of the new tasks added to a portion of the science MTAS this spring to prepare for these changes. 
  • Alternate MCA Science Sample Task - The materials here include the Task Administration Manuals and sample demonstration videos for Science and Reading Alternate MCA tasks.

MDE Seeking Public Feedback on Revised Eligibility Requirements 

MDE is updating the Eligibility Requirements used to identify students who have significant cognitive disabilities and should take the alternate assessment. The revised guidelines will go into effect starting in spring 2025, when the newly redesigned alternate assessment, the Alternate MCA, first becomes operational in science.
As part of the revision process, MDE is holding a public review period to collect feedback from district staff and community members on the latest draft of the Eligibility Requirements. This feedback will ensure that multiple perspectives throughout Minnesota are considered in the development of the final version of the document. 
After reviewing the eligibility requirements, please complete the survey which is open until June 17, 2024. If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Walker or Stacie Stensrud at


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