MCA Question and Answer
Monday, March 24, 2014 6:25 AM


Questions and Answers about the MCA in Mathematics, Reading and Science Spring 2014

What are the MCAs?

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) are state tests in mathematics, reading, and science that meet the requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). They are given every year to measure student performance against the Minnesota Academic Standards that specify what students in a particular grade should know and be able to do.

Why do we give these tests?

We use the MCAs to find out how well schools have aligned curriculum to and instructed students in the Minnesota Academic Standards in mathematics, reading and science. The mathematics and reading assessments are also used in federal school accountability measurements.

Schools use the information to improve classroom teaching and learning. Teachers and principals look for areas where students do well so they can reinforce the ways they teach these skills. They also look for areas that need improvement so they can increase instructional time or modify their instruction.

Who must take these tests?

The State of Minnesota and ESEA requires that all students in public schools participate in the statewide assessment program. Mathematics and reading tests are given in grades 3–8 and high school (students in grade 10 take the Reading MCA and students in grade 11 take the Mathematics MCA). The Science MCA is given to students in grades 5 and 8 and in the high school grade when they take a life science or biology course. With very few exceptions, all public school students in the above grades take the MCAs.

Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan may be eligible for accommodations. Some students may be eligible to take the MCA-Modified, an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards in mathematics and reading. Other students with significant cognitive disabilities may be eligible to take the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards in mathematics, reading and science. See the Alternate Assessment Eligibility Requirements on the MDE website for more information. (Go to School Support > Test Administration > Minnesota Tests.)

Information from the State Department of Education.