Statewide Testing

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 is available from the Data Center. Links are available under Related MDE resources. 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 Next 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 the District Assessment Coordinator (DAC) for your district. You can look up the DAC contact information in the MDE-ORG system.

On August 20, 2020, districts received Individual Student Reports (ISRs) for the results of 2019-20 test administration. Contact your District Assessment Coordinator (DAC) to see when ISRs will be distributed to families in your district and for any questions related to student scores. MDE does not have a copy of student reports and does not provide scores to students or families. ISRs for Spring 2020 are provided for only those students who completed and received a score in at least one subject before the testing windows closed due to COVID-19.

Standards-Based Accountability Assessments
The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) 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 federal and state legislative requirements. 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.

The list below shows tests by subject and the grades they are given:
  • Reading: MCA or MTAS (grades 3-8, 10)
  • Mathematics: MCA or MTAS (grades 3-8, 11)
  • Science: MCA or MTAS (grades 5, 8, and once in high school)

Career and College Readiness
Districts have a number of requirements to fulfill for students’ career and college planning for students first enrolled in grade eight in 2012-13 and later. This includes offering students in grades 11 and 12 an opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized college entrance exam (ACT or SAT) on a school day.

English Language Proficiency Accountability Assessments
The ACCESS 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 website is provided under Related resources on the right side of the page.

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.

Parent Fact Sheets

Answers to frequently asked questions about the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA), Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS), and ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, are available in a downloadable and printable Parent Fact Sheets. A test preparation fact sheet is also available. See the document list below. Translated versions of these fact sheets are available under Translated Documents, below.

Student Participation in Statewide Assessments

Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.31, subdivision 4a, requires the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to publish a form for parents/guardians to complete if they refuse to have their student participate in state-required standardized assessments. It includes some basic information to help parents/guardians make informed decisions that benefit their child and their school and community. The form to meet this legislative requirement is available at the link below. When completed, it must be returned to your student's district; your student’s district may require additional information.

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 using the Minnesota Statewide Test Security Tip Line.

Testing Disruptions Database

Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.30, subdivision 6, requires a database be available to enter information regarding online testing disruptions. The Testing Disruptions Database is intended to provide transparency for online testing disruptions for all Minnesota Assessments (MCA/MTAS/ACCESS/Alternate ACCESS for ELLs). Information entered is available for the general public to view and search. To report testing disruptions, use the Testing Disruptions Database.

This database is NOT to be used for reporting technical issues during testing that require immediate attention. Districts and schools must contact the appropriate service provider directly when seeking assistance with technical issues impacting testing.

Test Score Interpretation Resources

Translated Documents

Two Students On Math Test Day

Annual Testing Helps Schools Assess Student Learning

Related MDE resources:

Related offsite resources: