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Testing Season

posted Apr 6, 2015, 7:12 AM by Brenda Williams
The season is once again upon us. With the arrival of spring, school districts across the state start thinking of many things: end of the semester, graduation, next year’s schedule and education plan, the transition of the activities season, and...testing. Mandatory statewide testing is a topic of discussion across classrooms and districts, legislative units and oversight committees. Minnesota requires two test batteries of every public school as a result of the 2002 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act: the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) and the American College Test (ACT).

The MCA is used to measure achievement towards meeting the Minnesota Academic Standards and track academic progress of students over time. The state of Minnesota will use the ACT to assess whether a high school junior is demonstrating the skills and knowledge necessary for success beyond high school.

The MCA assesses reading in grades 3-8 and 10, and math in grades 3-8 and 11. Science is tested in grades 5, 8, and 10. Usually testing takes place in a window from the end of March to beginning of May. This year in the Pequot Lakes School District, our testing will be administered primarily during the month of April. A complete schedule of testing can be found on the district’s website at

Implementation of the ACT as a statewide initiative is new this year. All 11th graders across the state of Minnesota will sit for the ACT on Tuesday, April 28. Testing runs from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. According to ACT rules, no food or drink is allowed in the testing room. Students are asked to bring identification, a calculator, and several number two pencils. Mechanical pencils are not allowed.

The Minnesota Department of Education recommends the following tips for students and families to help students prepare for statewide testing:

● Share your enthusiasm and interest in reading, mathematics, and science with your children.

● Item samplers help students become familiar with the format of the test and provide examples of the types of questions that are on the test. You can find item samplers for each grade and subject on the PearsonAccess website (

● Student tutorials show students how to navigate the online test, use online test tools, and answer different types of test questions. View online student tutorials on the PearsonAccess website. (Go to PearsonAccess > Resources >Student Resources.)

● Encourage students to answer all test questions.

● Have students get a good night’s sleep and eat a nutritious breakfast before taking a test.

● Encourage students to practice good study habits. Students should set aside time every day for homework.

With the support and encouragement of everyone involved, we can help students tackle the testing hurdle and maintain a positive end to their academic year. Let’s make it a strong spring season.

-- Tracy Tschida, Teaching & Learning Coordinator