MCA Test Structure


Understand the format, functionality, and quantity of questions on the MCA  

There are three types of questions (called items) on the MCA which differ in terms of how they are counted toward a student's final score: 
  
Types of items that appear on the MCA
Type
Definition
Operational Item
Operational items are test questions that are scored and counted toward a student's final MCA score.
Field Test Item
Field test items are questions and passages currently under review by educator committees. Responses to these do not count toward a student's final score.
Off-Grade Item

Off-grade items are based on the academic standards one grade above and/or below the student's current grade. They count toward the College and Career Readiness (CCR) Score, and are not counted toward a student's final MCA score.

    

Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Education requires districts to ensure that all students are familiar with the online format of the test they will be taking. Students should be able to successfully navigate, use the online tools and accessibility features, and respond to different item types. Resources available to help with this are listed below. The Purpose of Student Resources document further explains the resources, and their intended purposes. Decisions may vary by school, grade, or student in regards to which resources your district chooses to use with students.

  • Item Types Tutorial - The online student tutorials are 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 Types Teacher Guide - This guide provides additional details for educators about the functionality students will experience in the online Student Tutorial.  

The information found in the "Grade Level Assessment Details" Table at the bottom of this page, is from the Procedures Manual and Test Specifications. Each document is organized by grade and subject, so teachers have quick access to MCA details most relevant to their work. Please note that while test specifications can be a helpful a resource for educators to see how the academic standards are addressed on the MCA, they are not meant to be used as the basis for curriculum and instruction. Nor are they meant to limit instruction based on the limits set in the test specifications.

To learn more about the various item types and functionality, review the Procedures Manual, or watch the Minnesota Test Development Life Cycle Course Modules in Pearson's Training Management System.  

 

 

 

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Item Types Tutorial Image

Mathematics MCA-III Structure

Online Test and Data Entry
March 2 – May 1, 2020

Assessment Format
The Mathematics MCA-III is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). Each student begins the test with a test item of average difficulty. When the student answers the item, the response is immediately scored. If the response is incorrect, the CAT algorithm selects a slightly easier question for the student to answer next. If the response is correct, the CAT algorithm selects a slightly more difficult question for the student to answer next. 
 
Item Types
The Mathematics MCA-III contains operational, field test, and off-grade items. To learn more about the various item types, review the table above. To learn more about the quantity of items and proportions assessed at the strand level, click on the document in the table below that corresponds to your grade level. 

Reading MCA-III Structure

Online Test and Data Entry
March 2 – May 1, 2020
 
Assessment Format
The Reading MCA-III is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). Each student begins the test with a passage set of average difficulty. A passage set is a passage and a series of predetermined test items associated with the passage. The student then answers the test items associated with the passage. The CAT algorithm scores the set as a whole and selects a slightly easier or more difficult passage set based on the student’s responses to the first set.
 
Item Types
The Reading MCA-III contains operational, field test, and off-grade items. To learn more about the various item types, review the definitions above. To learn more about the quantity of items and proportions assessed at each substrand, click on the document in the table below that corresponds to your grade level.

 

Science MCA - III Structure

Online Test and Data Entry
MCA: March 2 – May 8, 2020
MTAS: March 2 – May 1, 2020
 
Assessment Format
The Science MCA is an online fixed form test, which means the content of the test is pre-determined. There are several forms, or versions, of the test that use different scenarios and questions, but all are of equal difficulty. A fixed form test uses the same scenarios and items for all students. However, each student’s performance on the test will result in a unique score.
 
To learn more about the quantity of items and proportions assessed from each strand or standard, click on the document in the table below that corresponds to your grade level.

 

 

Grade Level Assessment Details

Reading Mathematics Science

Grade 3

Grade 3

N/A

Grade 4

Grade 4

N/A

Grade 5

Grade 5

Grade 5

Grade 6

Grade 6

N/A

Grade 7

Grade 7

N/A

Grade 8

Grade 8

Grade 8

High School

Grade 11

High School