The assessment results provide a window into equitable opportunities for students across the state to demonstrate:
The results represent a valid measurement of the extent students have mastered the academic standards at the time they test. However, these results alone do not illustrate the whole picture of what a student has learned that school year.
Minnesota's statewide assessments function as one part of a balanced, comprehensive assessment system that works in coordination to provide information about student learning of the standards. The results should be considered with additional, more fine-grained evidence of student learning, like projects and classroom assessments.
Minnesota Assessment Lifecycle Course, Module 1: Minnesota Assessments Overview
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.30, require students be assessed annually in reading, mathematics, and science. The MCA and MTAS are the standards-based accountability assessments used to meet this requirement. They are developed and revised in collaboration with Minnesota educators, as outlined at the bottom of this page.
The results provide a window into equitable student learning opportunities across the state. This allows policymakers, school leaders, and the public to gain general insight into the extent students have access to rigorous standards-based content and instruction at their school and district. These results should always be used with additional evidence of student learning from the school or district level.
Most students take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA). Students who receive special education services and meet the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) eligibility requirements take the MTAS.
The MCA and MTAS are criterion-referenced assessments, which means they measure a snapshot of student learning of a pre-determined set of criteria: the Minnesota Academic Standards. As academic standards are revised, a new assessment is developed to align with the updated standards. The new academic standards are not assessed until a new assessment is fully developed and aligned to the revised set of standards.
|Subject||Grade Level Assessed||Standards Assessed on MCA-III||Standards Assessed on MCA-IV|
|Reading||3-8 and 10|
Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010).
Last test will be administered in Spring 2025.
Test will be administered beginning in Spring 2026.
|Math||3-8 and 11||Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Mathematics (2007).||TBD|
|Science||5, 8, and high school (after completing a life science course)||Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Science (2009).|
Last test will be administered in Spring 2024.
|2019 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Science.|
Test will be administered beginning in Spring 2025.*
*A redesigned alternate assessment (in place of MTAS) will also be administered in science beginning in Spring 2025.
In addition to the standards-based accountability assessments, ESSA and Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.59, require all English learners (ELs) be assessed in grades K–12 in English language proficiency. ACCESS for ELs (ACCESS) and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs (Alternate ACCESS) are used to meet this federal requirement. These assessments are developed by the multi-state WIDA Consortium.
Most EL students take the ACCESS, but EL students who receive special education services and meet the participation criteria may take the Alternate ACCESS. The primary purpose of the English language proficiency accountability assessments is to progress towards meeting the WIDA English Language Development Standards. For more information about ACCESS and Alternate ACESS, please visit WIDA ACCESS for ELLs Online.
The infographic below summarizes the continuous process used for developing the MCA and MTAS. Committees of educators are involved in each step and work to ensure all test content is culturally affirming and represents the rich diversity of Minnesota students.
Download the full infographic
For more detailed information about the test development process for MCA and MTAS, please watch the Assessment Life Cycle Module 3: Test Development.
Minnesota Assessment Life Cycle Course, Module 3: Test Development