One of my roles as the director of Teaching and Learning for Brainerd Public Schools is to support student learning by working with staff to develop and refine our curricula.

I want to share how and why the school district uses the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs). These tests are given in math and reading each year from grades 3 to 8, and once in high school. Science is assessed in grades 5, 8 and once in high school. We are proud of the success our students have on state accountability tests.

Based on district averages, our students significantly outperform our neighbors on almost all MCAs. In several cases, our students outperform our neighbors by 10 or more percentage points.

The Kindergarten-Grade 12 Minnesota Academic Standards are our promise to the community about what each student will learn and be able to do. The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments are the only objective and aligned assessment that measures student performance of the K-12 Minnesota Academic Standards. When combined with other information such as classroom assessments and other standardized assessments, they provide a more complete understanding of where students are at and what adjustments we need to make in our curriculum and teaching over time.

The information we receive from the MCAs helps us identify and support the student groups most in need, such as students in poverty, special education, or other groups. We use the information to help us grow our students each year and to continue to refine the quality of academic programs. At this we have been very successful. We outperform the state of Minnesota and neighboring on almost all of the MCAs.

Students can benefit from the MCAs. Minnesota legislation now enables college students to be

placed into college-level courses based on high school MCA scores. They may not be required to take a developmental level courses in that subject area possibly saving students both time and money in college.

We deeply appreciate our community’s support of our learners and our efforts, and we are ever

striving to do the most possible for each learner in our schools.