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South Washington County Schools

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why does my child take tests and which tests are given?

Our district is committed to providing the best possible education for every student. Tests are given for different reasons, depending on the need. Some tests are required by federal and/or state legislation. Some tests are required to measure English language proficiency. Some tests are given to measure progress to a learning goal. Some tests are used to monitor progress made during a period of time, to measure the impact of instruction. Some tests are used to select students to participate in educational programs or services. One test cannot fill all needs. The District Data and Assessment Committee reviews our PreK-Grade 12 tests and assessments and makes recommendations to ensure a balanced system of assessments and that assessments are being used for the purpose for which they were designed and selected.

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

Required by the State of Minnesota to measure progress to MN Academic Standards and by federal legislation to comply with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Do you need a copy of your high school MCA report?  Minnesota legislation passed in 2016 enables college-bound students entering one of the 37 Minnesota State colleges and universities to be placed into credit bearing college-level courses based on their high school Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) scores. Minnesota State Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) Used in Course Placement provides more detailed information. Contact Renee Allen, Office Coordinator, Department of Student Information, at 651-425-6218 to request a copy of your high school MCA report. 

Estimated Testing Times (times for online tests)

  • MCA Reading, grades 3-8: 3-4 hours
  • MCA Reading, grade 10: 2-3 hours
  • MCA Math, grades 3-8: 2-3 hours
  • MCA Math, grade 11: 2-3 hours
  • MCA Science: 2 hours
  • MTAS: Individualized 
  • For more information about state testing, go to Minnesota Department of Education
  • For more information about MCA testing, please see this document from the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • For more information about MTAS, please see this document from the Minnesota Department of Education

 English Learners ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS:

  • Required by the State of Minnesota and federal legislation for all English Learners (ELs).
  • These tests measure English proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening and are usually administered during the months of February and March.
  • For more information about ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS, please see this document from the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • Estimated testing time for ACCESS, Kdg: Individualized, approximately 1 hour
  • Estimated testing time for ACCESS, Grades 1-12: 30-40 minutes per domain (listening, reading, speaking)
  • Estimated testing time for ACCESS Writing, Grades 1-12: 65 minutes
  • Estimated testing time for Alternate ACCESS: 20 minutes per domain

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP):

  • Online math and reading tests administered to all students in grades 2-7.
  • Estimated time per subject is approximately 1 hour.
  • Student performance is reported by achievement level and growth (national and state norms).
  • MAP tests are adaptive, meaning that the items a student will see will adjust in difficulty based on a student's correct response.
  • MAP tests can provide a direct link to instruction, allowing for more personalized learning opportunities.
  • MAP tests are aligned with MN academic standards and are highly predictive of proficiency on MCAs.
  • Student growth is measured fall-to-fall.

When will I receive results for my child?

  • The MCA/MTAS and ACCESS for ELLs reports were delivered on August 30, 2018 and have been sent to each school.
  • For all Spring 2018 state assessment (MCA/MTAS) results, schools are required to distribute individual student reports by fall conferences. Contact your student's school for specific requests. Each school determines the method it will use and will communicate with parents/families so they know when to expect the reports. 
  • Each district determines its own process to distribute reports so there can be a lag from the time the reports are shipped to when the parent receives it.
  • There are some students who tested in 2018 who don't yet have an individual report. Some examples include: student tested at one district school last year and is now enrolled at another district school; the student enrolled from out of state; the student tested in another MN district or charter school and is now enrolled in District 833. 
  • If you have questions about your child's MCA report, contact your child's school.
  • Resources to understand MTAS/MCA reports can be found here
  • For MAP results, contact your child's teacher or school for results. Results are typically shared with parents at conference times and for student goal setting. 
  • Currently, we are working on providing access to state and local assessment results in the District parent portal. We anticipate this will be available in the Fall of 2019.

Is there an opt-out process ?

Yes, parents who prefer to opt their child out of state and/or local testing may provide a written request to their school's principal. 

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.  

Parent Guardian Guide and Refusal for Statewide Testing (updated May 2018)  Tranlated versions available here.

Upon receipt of a signed form, the principal will follow up with the parent/guardian and will contact school staff to make arrangements to provide supervision at school while the test is administered. Opt-out requests are valid for the school year in which they are submitted for each student and must be submitted each year. A parent refusal must be submitted to the principal in writing before testing. Principals will forward a copy to the District Assessment Coordinator, Gretchen Chilkott. 

If a student has started or completed the assessment at the time of the parent refusal, the test will be submitted as is for scoring. The district cannot invalidate the test because the portion the student completed is still valid; however, the district will document that the request for refusal could not be honored.