Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Break Rx: Find Your Student's MCA 'Learning Locator'

Minnesota public school parents interested in helping support their child's standardized test performance in math need to  think 'spring' a bit earlier this year, given the earlier opening of the testing window for the new online MCA III mathematics examination.

The state's education department is allowing districts to offer their math exams anywhere between 3/28 and 5/20-- two to three weeks earlier than normal--  for the 2010-11 school year.  Depending on their given district's individual timing decision, families may want to work on weaknesses identified in the previous administration of the exam, which Minnesota's Department of Education simplified by issuing  a "learning locator" number for each student taking the math and reading exams in 2009-10.

"Learning locators" are contained on the paper copy of the previous year's exam, and some school districts have placed them in their electronically accessible student data systems (District 621 among them). The number can then be entered on the linked Department of Education page to generate practice exercises in areas a student needs to strengthen:

'Learning Locator' MCA Practice in Math & Reading 

In addition to the earlier administration window of the MCA III math, it is also a brand new version of the exam believed to be more rigorous in terms of the algebra required at the 7th and 8th grade levels.

As the test instrument used to compute Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments are the assessment tool of choice for staying in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The testing window for administering the paper and pencil reading MCA II exam is April 11- 29 this year.  (Scheduled rollout of the online version of the MCA III reading exam is Spring of 2013).

MCA Tests Administered in 2010-11 School Year

           MCA III
                MCA II
           MCA II
               MCA II
       5th & 8th 
              (Note 1)
            (Note 1)

Note 1:  Minnesota students also take an MCA Science exam in the year they have a Life Science course.

Note 2:  The 10th and 11th grade reading and math exams are also graduation-standard exams each student must pass to receive a diploma.  It is possible to pass the MCA exam without passing the GRAD portion of the exam, and vice versa.  The new MCA III for 11th grade math is scheduled to be out in Spring 2014.

Note 3:  The MCA IIIs for science will be out in Spring 2012.  The 2011 test window for the Science MCA IIs is the same as math (March 28th  to May 20th).

Note 4: A majority of MN public school students take a series of NWEA (MAP) tests from grades 3 to 8, as well as a series known as the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT exams in the 8th, 10th, and 11th grades.

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