Students gear up for achievement testing

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 20, 2006

By Kari Lucin, staff writer

Between April 17 and May 5, Albert Lea students and 500,000 other Minnesota students will take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments II, new tests designed to measure individual achievement in reading and math as well as school achievement toward state standards.

The original MCA tests were launched in 1998 as a part of both state and federal design for third- and fifth-graders. They were built around the skills and ideas described in the profile of learning, the state’s old academic standards. After those standards were repealed, new academic standards were designed, and then the federal No Child Left Behind Act mandated that everyone in grades three through eight and high school needed to be tested in math and reading.

The MCA-IIs were written in conformance with No Child Left Behind to test for new state standards, and will test grades three through eight, as well as 10th- and 11th-graders. In 2008, Minnesota schools will be adding science testing to some grades.

No teachers have seen the MCA-II test, and no standards for achievement have yet been set. The state is waiting until after students take the test for the first time to determine what a passing score will be, which is standard procedure for new tests.

Teachers will not have to change their curriculum to help students excel on the test, said Albert Lea Schools Curriculum Director Judy Knudtson. The curriculum is already aligned to state standards, just as the MCA-IIs are.

&8220;If we’ve done the best possible job we can to teach, the results have to be something that we we can be proud of,&8221; Knudtson said.

Test results will be out in September.

(Contact Kari Lucin at kari.lucin@albertleatribune.com or 379-3444.)