From: Piper Thompson
Winona Middle School
Right now, tons of kids, in Winona and in the state, are breathing a huge sigh of relief. The MCAs are over.
MCA stands for Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment. The MCAs are a standardized test that students have to take every year. They compare each student with the others in their school, and the state, at their grade level. The MCAs were developed in order to test whether or not students were learning what they needed for the next grade. I think that we can all agree that the idea for the standardized tests was smart. It’s important that students know enough to be able to do the work in the next grade. But, these tests have taken over. We spend more time on MCA prep than any other thing. I can’t count the number of times I heard my math teacher say, “We need to learn this, we have a lot to cover before the MCAs,” this year. We would spend one day on each lesson, and we almost didn’t have enough time. Also, if you look at it, the funding system is problematic. If a school doesn’t do well, they get less funding. That seems backwards. If they don’t do well they should get more funding, then they’d have more money to improve their teaching methods and pass next time.
We need to stop putting so much emphasis on the MCAs. Let’s put our heads together to come up with alternatives to these time and money consuming assessments.
Minnesota was granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate in February 2012. Public schools in the state have not been subject to funding “consequences” due to unsatisfactory test scores since the NCLB waiver was approved.