Testing is used in schools to measure student achievement. State tests are given to students in a district once a year, based on their grade level and subject area. Classroom tests are given by individual teachers on a more regular basis and may include quizzes, mid-terms, chapter tests, and final exams, among others. Both types of tests give educators an idea of how well their students are learning the concepts presented to them in the classroom.
State testing information (data) by district or school can be found using the Data Center link provided. Educators can use this testing information to adjust their instruction to increase how well their students retain what is being taught.
Additional resources, including Item Samplers and Pearson’s Perspective, are available on the PearsonAccess website. Item Samplers are provided to help students and teachers become familiar with the format and type of content included in the state tests.
Information on this page can help parents, caregivers, and students learn more about testing in Minnesota schools. If you have additional questions about testing, please contact your school or District Assessment Coordinator.
Standards-Based Accountability Assessments
The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and alternate assessment Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and also meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Students take one test in each subject. Most students take the MCA, but students who receive special education services and meet eligibility requirements may take the alternate assessment MTAS instead. View a graphic display of Minnesota's testing programs by type and grade level.
The list below shows tests by subject along with the grades they are given in parentheses behind each test.
Reading: MCA (grades 3-8, 10) or MCA-Modified (grades 5-8,10) or MTAS (grades 3-8, 10)
Mathematics: MCA (grades 3-8, 11) or MCA-Modified (grades 5-8, 11) or MTAS (grades 3-8, 11)
Science: MCA or MTAS (grades 5, 8, and high school)
Note: 2013–2014 was the last administration year of the MCA-Modified assessment, an alternate assessment for a limited group of special education students whose disability has prohibited them from attaining grade-level proficiency. As a result of U.S. Department of Education regulations that require states to discontinue alternate assessments based on modified achievement standards, MCA-Modified will no longer be offered in spring of 2015 or thereafter.
Based on new legislation, the graduation assessment requirements have changed. Please refer to the Minnesota Tests page available under Related MDE Resources on the right and the Graduation Assessment Requirements Parent Fact Sheet for more detail.
English Language Proficiency Assessments
The ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs are the assessments developed by the WIDA consortium and administered to English learners in order to measure progress toward meeting Minnesota’s standards for English language development, developed by the WIDA consortium. Most English learners will take the ACCESS for ELLs, but English learners who received special education services and meet the participation guidelines may take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. A link to the WIDA Consortium website is provided under related resources on the right side of the page.
Parent Fact Sheets
Answers to frequently asked questions about the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA), Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), and graduation assessment requirements are available in a downloadable and printable Parent Fact Sheets. A test preparation fact sheet is also available.
English Language Parent Fact Sheets
Test Security Tip Line
Translated Parent Fact Sheets
Maintaining the integrity of tests and test items is of great importance to the Minnesota Department of Education. Improper or unethical behavior by students or educators undermines the validity of test score interpretation. Please report suspected incidents of cheating or piracy of test items using the Minnesota Statewide Test Security Tip Line