High School


On the high school resources page, teachers will find resources organized into three categories: general resources, content-specific resources, and other resources. These resources are provided to help teachers make informed instructional decisions. Since the Minnesota Academic Standards are the primary resource for all teachers, we have linked to the Standards Portal and encourage teachers to use this site for implementing standards-based instruction. The Teacher Newsletter is a great way for teachers to stay updated on new information and details coming out of the Division of Statewide Testing, and provides a list of upcoming presentations by Holly Pope.

High school students sitting at a table writing

General Resources

Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards - Districts are required to implement the Minnesota academic standards so that all students have access to high-quality content and instruction. Districts must develop local standards for subjects that do not have state standards.

Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) - Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) describe the skills and knowledge associated with each of the four levels students may achieve on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS). Developed by panels of Minnesota teachers, ALDs provided on the Individual Student Reports for reading, mathematics, and science are found on the Statewide Testing page.

Achievement Level Descriptor Map - The maps are supplementary materials to the MCA ALDs.

Understanding Statewide Assessment Resources: Achievement Level Descriptors - This document was created to help educators understand how to use and apply the ALDs for instruction.

Depth of Knowledge (DOK) - Cognitive complexity refers to the cognitive demand associated with an item. The level of cognitive demand is dependent upon the number of cognitive processes involved in determining the correct answer to an item. Levels of cognitive complexity for MCA-III are based on Norman L. Webb's Depth of Knowledge levels.

Understanding Statewide Assessment Resources: Depth of Knowledge - This document was created to help educators understand how to use and apply Webb's Depth of Knowledge.

Test Specifications - Test specifications are specific rules and characteristics that guide the development of a test's content and format. They indicate which strands, sub-strands, standards and benchmarks will be assessed on the test and in what proportions. Test specifications are excellent tools for gaining an in-depth understanding of the content and format of the tests. However, they are not meant to be used as the basis for curriculum and instruction. Some concepts in the academic standards can only be assessed in the classroom and not on a standardized statewide assessment.

Understanding Statewide Assessment Resources: Test Specification - This document was created to help educators understand the purpose and application of the Test Specifications.

Minnesota Department of Education Report Card - This online tool is designed to provide parents, educators, schools, districts and citizens with easy access to data (e.g., district and school information, test results, demographic information and other critical data).

WIDA Can Do Descriptors - The Can Do Descriptors highlight what language learners can do at various stages of language development as they engage in teaching and learning in academic contexts. The WIDA consortium supports English learners through its English Language Development (ELD) Standards, assessments, research, and professional learning for educators.

WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards - ACCESS for ELLs is a large-scale assessment of English language proficiency based on the Minnesota Standards for English Language Development, developed by the WIDA Consortium. WIDA's standards outline the progression of English language development and exemplify how to teach academic language within the context of content area instruction.

Content Resources

Minnesota Frameworks for Science and Mathematics Standards – This website provides instructional resources tied to each standard and provides additional resources. It is part of the STEM Teacher Center developed by SciMathMN and the Minnesota Department of Education.

Released Mathematics Items and Reading Passage Sets - Released items and passage sets are provided as instructional resources for student practice and teacher or parent use. These items and passages were previously used on the MCA. This is a small group of items, therefore not every item type or benchmark is represented.

Academic Standards (K-12) - Additional content area specific resources provided by the Minnesota Department of Education will be found on this web page.

Purpose of Student Resources - The Minnesota Department of Education requires districts to ensure that all students are familiar with the test they will be taking and are able to successfully navigate, use the online tools and accessibility features, and respond to different item types. The resources students need to review will be determined by the school, based on familiarity and experience with the test. Decisions on resources to use may vary by school, grade, or student.

Student Tutorial Resources - The online student tutorial is one type of student resource used to familiarize students and educators with the general functionality of the online test, tools, and all test item types. The online student tutorial contains three components: navigation, tools, and item types.

Item Samplers - The student tutorial is used to familiarize students and educators with the general functionality of the online test, including navigation, tools, and test item types. While standardized tests are familiar to almost all students, each assessment has its own layout and ways students interact with it. The item samplers should be used to familiarize students and educators with how the content is assessed by providing examples of the format and items students could encounter.

Item Sampler Teacher Guide - Reading and Mathematics MCA Item Sampler Teacher Guides contain screenshots of every item in the sampler, along with the correct answer, DOK, benchmark, and rationales for each answer option are provided for the multiple-choice (MC) items.

Additional Resources

Pearson Perspective - Minnesota's Perspective™ system contains individually targeted instructional resources based on each student's MCA results. It uses student scores to provide feedback and learning resources that address specific areas needing remediation and enrichment. Some helpful resources include the following PowerPoint and overview video:

NAEP Questions Tool - The NAEP Questions Tool is a database of more than 3,000 questions, in 10 subject areas, from the NAEP assessments. You can search for questions by subject, grade and content area; view student responses; create customized tests; and more. You can bookmark questions for later use, and use them to supplement classroom instruction.

Nation's Report Card - The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Nation's Report Card, provides the latest results and reports. The Contextual Questionnaire can provide educators with additional information to help put student achievement results into context and helps educators take a closer look at the factors related to student achievement.


Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced - PARCC and Smarter Balanced have a wealth of resources and information but are aligned to the Common Core state standards. The Minnesota reading academic standards are aligned to the Common Core, but mathematics standards are not. Some of the PARCC's released item types and Smarter Balanced assessment resources vary from what students will see on the MCA. When using either of these resources, please use with caution.