Definitions of & Purpose for Assessments in Pine Island

Definition of and Purpose for Assessments in Pine Island

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and the Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS)

The MCAs and MTAS are administered statewide to help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota‚Äôs academic standards and also meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Students receive a score for each subject area tested with an indicator designating if the student exceeded, met, partially met, or did not meet the respective grade-level standards in the area assessed. Most students take the MCA, but students who receive special education services and meet eligibility requirements may take the alternate assessment MTAS instead.  

Since the 2015-16 school year, all MCA testing has been administered online unless specific special education or 504 accommodations call for paper versions. The following grades participate in MCA testing in the subjects noted:

- Reading - grades 3-8 and 10
- Math - grades 3-8 and 11
- Science - grades 5, 8 and once in high school (must have completed a Biology course)

Additional information on the MCAs is located on the Minnesota Department of Education's (MDE) website. 

ACT test (American College Testing)

The ACT test is a national college admissions exam that consists of subject area tests in English, Math, Science, Reading, and Writing. All school districts in the state of Minnesota are required to offer a college admission exam to 11th grade students during the school day at least one time each school year. Students who choose to take the ACT will take the test on the assigned testing day (during school), typically in the spring of each year.  

ACT scores from this test administration can be reported to colleges. For students with IEP or 504 accommodations, ACT scores may also be reported to colleges as long as the ACT company pre-approves any accommodations. 

For more information on the ACT test, please ACT's website

Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST) testing

The Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST) is a suite of highly efficient assessment tools designed for universal screening, progress monitoring, and program evaluation as part of a Response to Intervention (RtI) or Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model of service delivery.  

The universal screening of all students, several times a year, enables educators to identify which students are on track to reach end of year outcomes and which students may be at risk.  This practice helps to ensure that educators are identifying potential at-risk students as early as possible so effective preventative practices can be delivered in a timely fashion. Furthermore, data from universal screening can assist educators in evaluating the health and well-being of their system as part of their Continuous Improvement decision-making. The progress monitoring measures enable educators to collect data more frequently on at-risk students in order to make timely decisions regarding the effectiveness of the targeted/intensive instruction. 

Students in grades K-8 will be assessed three times per year using the following tools:

aReading (Adaptive Reading) is a simple, efficient computer-adaptive measure of broad reading that is individualized for each student, but may be delivered in a group format in about 15-30 minutes.  It is designed for universal screening.

aMath (Adaptive Math) is a simple, efficient computer-adaptive measure of broad math that is individualized per student, but may be group administered in about 20-30 minutes. aMath is highly researched and based on the recommendations of the National Math Panel (2008) and the Common Core State Standards.  Students who progress at a typical pace through their math curriculum meet the standards for expected performance. Students with deficits in achievement are identified via aMath to receive further instruction.

Additional information on FAST assessments is located on their website.

ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS testing

The ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs are English language proficiency assessments used to meet federal and state legislative requirements. These assessment are used to monitor English learners' progress as they develop academic language skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 

The scores provide valuable information about English language development to families and schools. Families use proficiency level scores and descriptions to understand the progress their child is making and engage with school to support their child's learning. Schools us the scores to monitor student progress in acquiring English, plan instruction, and evaluate their language development programs. Scores are also used to determine if a student is ready to exit an English language program. 

For more information, please visit MDE's website