No Child Left Behind

Testing is used in schools to measure student achievement. The “high-stakes test” from No Child Left Behind legislation or State tests are given to students in a district once a year, based on their grade level and subject area. The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) are given in math, reading and science.

Title I Assessments

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCAs) and alternate assessments (MCA-Modified and Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS)) are the state tests that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and also meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Students take one test in each subject. Most students take the MCA, but students who receive special educaiton services and meet eligibility requirements may take one of the alternate assessments instead. The list below gives the tests available for each subject, with grades given in parentheses behind each test.

Reading: MCA (grades 3-8, 10) or MCA-Modified (grades 5-8,10) or MTAS (grades 3-8, 10)

Mathematics: MCA (grades 3-8, 11) or MCA-Modified (grades 5-8, 11) or MTAS (grades 3-8, 11)

Science: MCA or MTAS (grades 5, 8 and high school)

CA MCA Opt Out Explanation and Signature

MDE opt out

Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR)


Data Release Timeline and Key Terminology

As you know, in February, Minnesota’s No Child Left Behind waiver request was approved by the U.S. Department of Education. As a result of this waiver approval, Minnesota is now transitioning to a new system of school recognition, accountability and support. The heart of this new system is a new way of measuring schools called the Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR), and a new set of school accountability designations. One condition of Minnesota’s approved waiver is to calculate the MMR for all schools in the state before the end of this school year using previous year’s data, and to designate Reward, Focus and Priority Schools based on the MMR calculation. MDE has been working with data from 2011 and 2010 to satisfy this requirement, and now has a timeline in place for releasing this data to districts and the public.

On May 14, 2012, all districts will have access to MMR data for their district, and will be able to see which of their schools have been designated as Reward, Focus and Priority Schools through the secure data center on the MDE website. Following that release, districts will have an opportunity to prepare for the public release of MMR data by working with MDE staff to understand what it means for their schools going forward. On May 22, all MMR data and school designations will be made available to the media and posted to the MDE website for full public release. We understand this is a major transition for districts, and that there will be confusion about some of these changes. We strongly recommend that you use the coming month to learn more about the new system. There are several help documents posted on MDE’s Website.

For your convenience, here are definitions of some key terms: Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) – Minnesota’s new measurement of school performance. The MMR measures proficiency, student growth, achievement gap reduction, and graduation rates. Schools earn points in each category. The percentage of possible points that a school earns is the school’s MMR.

Focus Rating – Minnesota’s new measurement for identifying Focus Schools. The Focus Rating is generated by combining the proficiency and growth of the seven subgroups for which there is an achievement gap (Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Free/Reduced Price Lunch, Special Education, and English Learners).

Priority Schools – The 5 percent most-persistently low-performing schools in the state. These schools will be identified in one of two ways: 1) status as a SIG (School Improvement Grant) School, or 2) the lowest MMRs in their grade classification group (elementary, middle school, high school, other). These schools will be required to collaborate with MDE and the statewide support system to develop a school turnaround plan based on the federal turnaround principles. These schools will be identified once every three years.

Focus Schools – The 10 percent of Title I schools making the biggest contribution to the state’s achievement gap and high schools with graduation rates of less than 60 percent. These schools will be identified in one of two ways: 1) the lowest Focus Ratings in their grade classification group (elementary, middle school, high school, other), or 2) graduation rates of less than 60 percent. These schools will work with their district to develop a school improvement plan that directly addresses poor performance either within a subgroup, or in graduation rates. These schools will be identified once every three years.

Reward Schools – The highest-performing 15 percent of Title I schools in the state. These schools will be identified based on being in the top 15 percent of their grade classification group (elementary, middle school, high school, other) in the MMR. These schools will be publicly recognized for their good work and will be identified every year.