Statewide Testing

The Statewide Testing division is responsible for: 1) measuring student performance on Minnesota’s Academic Standards and the WIDA English language development standards; 2) measuring the academic progress of students over time; and 3) providing Minnesota graduates a score related to career and college readiness. To accomplish this, we coordinate the development, administration, and reporting of the Minnesota statewide student assessment system. We provide information on testing calendars, alternate assessment requirements, and more.


Pearson provides the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) in mathematics, reading, and science. The WIDA consortium develops the ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs assessments that are administered to all English learners.  

Assessment Resources

The majority of assessment resources for district staff are posted to the Resources & Training tab of PearsonAccess Next, including trainings, user guides, and the Procedures Manual for the Minnesota Assessments, which is the main resource for District Assessment Coordinators (DACs). The testing directions and student resources are under the Preparing for Testing tab.

Item samplers are available to help teachers and students become familiar with the format and type of content included in each test. In addition, online student tutorials are available for the online tests. See the Item Samplers page for more information.

Test specifications are specific rules and characteristics that guide the development of a test’s content and format. They indicate which strands, sub-strands, standards and benchmarks will be assessed on the test and in what proportions. Test specifications are excellent tools for gaining an in-depth understanding of the content and format of the tests. However, they are not meant to be used as the basis for curriculum and instruction. On the Test Specifications page, you will find the specifications for the MCA and MTAS in mathematics, reading, and science.

Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) describe the four levels of achievement on the Minnesota Academic Standards. Developed by panels of Minnesota teachers, ALDs from the Individual Student Reports are available on the Achievement Level Descriptors page. Achievement level maps, also available on the ALD page, are supplementary to the ALDs and provide a way to view skills by strand or standard across the four achievement levels.

Communication

Statewide Testing communicates with DACs and other interested district staff in a variety of ways, including a weekly Assessment Update email and various trainings. DACs, District Technology Coordinators (DTCs), superintendents, and charter school directors automatically receive the email. If you would like to receive these emails, send your name, email address, and district name to mde.testing@state.mn.us. If you have questions, email Sequoia Block  (mde.testing@state.mn.us) or call him at 651-582-8674.

Comments, suggestions, and feedback for improvements for the Minnesota Assessments are valuable to the growth and effectiveness of the testing program. The Minnesota Department of Education and our service providers continually work to improve testing procedures for future administrations. Email feedback to MDE.

District Assessment Coordinator Resources

Test Score Interpretation Resources

Frequently Asked Questions: Why Statewide Test Results Matter

Minnesota’s statewide tests are objective, standardized measures of student achievement on academic or proficiency standards. Students, families, teachers and administrators use statewide test results as part of a comprehensive system for evaluating learning. Answers to frequently asked questions explain the purpose for statewide testing and why it is important to ensure the integrity of test scores: Frequently Asked Questions: Why Statewide Test Results Matter.

Assessment Advisory Groups

A variety of groups and organizations advise the Minnesota Assessment System. Each serves a specific role, and their combined efforts contribute significantly to the program’s success. For information about our advisory groups, see the Statewide Testing Advisory Groups overview or complete the Statewide Testing Advisory Committee Application if you would like to be part of a committee.

The Future Assessment Design Working Group met from January 2017 through October 2017 to discuss the design of future state assessments. The Future Assessment Design Working Group Report includes the recommendations.

The Assessment Advisory Committee met from August 2017 through October 2017 to develop a comprehensive list of recommendations based on several reports and work group recommendations. The Assessment Advisory Committee Recommendations Report includes the consolidated recommendations from the Assessment Advisory Committee.

Advisory Panels

Qualified teachers and community members are needed to serve on the assessment advisory panels. Each advisory panel plays an important role in developing quality tests for Minnesota students. The Register for Advisory Panels page has information on applying to serve on a panel.

Test Security Tip Line

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 by using the Minnesota Statewide Test Security Tip Line.

Test Policies and Procedures Committee

The Test Policies and Procedures Committee (TPPC) met from October 2014 through June 2015 and reviewed Minnesota Department of Education's (MDE) policies and procedures to ensure the integrity of test scores. The committee considered best practices in test security and data integrity and made recommendations to the department. Test Policies and Procedures Committee Recommendations and Final Report includes the recommendations and initial assessment of requirements for implementation.