Minnesota State Assessments

Minnesota administers the following assessments, including the Standards-Based Accountability Assessments, English Language Proficiency Assessments, and the assessments used to meet graduation assessment requirements.

MCA - Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment

MCA-Modified - Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment - Modified

MTAS - Minnesota Test of Academic Skills

GRAD - Graduation-Required Assessments for Diploma (Applies only to students who started grade 8 in 11-12 academic year or prior)

OLPA - Optional Local Purpose Assessment (No results will be available through MDE Secured Reports (e.g., District Student Results files), and paper reports will not be provided.)

ACCESS for ELLs -  Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for ELLs

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs- Alternate Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for ELLs

Common Core Consortium and Transition Plan

Minnesota is not part of a common core testing consortium.  Pearson is Minnesota's test vendor for standards based assessments and WIDA is the test vendor for the ELL assessments.

MCA - Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) is an annual state test that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and also meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The Reading and Mathematics MCA are the primary assessments Minnesota uses for ESEA accountability. All students are required to take these tests or, for eligible students with significant cognitive disabilities, the Reading and Mathematics Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS). The test results are used to calculate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) for Minnesota schools and districts. MCA results can be used to compare schools and districts across the state. Science MCA participation (or Science MTAS, for eligible students) is required under ESEA but is not included in AYP or MMR calculations at this time. 


Subjects Tested

  • Reading

  • Mathematics

  • Science

Grade Levels

  • 3-8, 10 (Reading)

  • 3-8, 11 (Math)
  • 5,8, HS (Science)

Performance Levels are called Achievement Levels in Minnesota. The Scale Score ranges vary across grade levels (see above) which allows one to compare performance between test administrations but not between performance levels. (G = Grade; eg: "899" for a score of 99 for an 8th grader). First two cut scores are constant (G40 and G50). The score between Meets and Exceeds varies by grade and subject.

Exceeds and Meets are considered Proficient (http://education.state.mn.us/mdeprod/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&dDocName=005297&RevisionSelectionMethod=latestReleased&Rendition=primary, page 4)

Learning Locator

The goal of the Learning Locator is to provide teachers, parents, and students with targeted resources that are specifically matched to the student's performance on the measured standards. 

When a student's test responses are scored, a statistical analysis program calculates that student's performance profile. The profile is matched to a Learning Locator. Students then visit the Perspective website, enter their Learning Locator and receive materials personalized to their performance profile and learning needs. The Locators will start with an "M" for math and "R" for reading.

 Learning Locator is designed to provide targeted practice on specific standards in order for students to meet achievement criteria for their existing performance level, and to move them to the next performance level.

Terminology Used for Clusters 

Clusters for MCA are called "Strands". Score range for each strand is 1-9.

1-3 is Below Average
4-6 is Average
 7-9 is Above Average.

How are unique records Identified?

UIN (column #238, a string of up to 20 characters) only 

How are records matched to students in Illuminate?

  • 1st: MARSS State Reporting Number (18) to State Student ID
  • 2nd: Local Student ID (19) to Local Student ID