Assessments necessary to measure performance
Minnesota has a proud tradition of excellence in education. Minnesota's academic standards and assessments are ensuring Minnesota students have the essential skills necessary for success after high school.
Recently, a Tribune news story questioned whether the Minnesota Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma (GRAD) provided accurate data regarding the academic proficiency of Detroit Lakes students who have not passed the GRAD reading, writing and mathematics assessments that are required to graduate.
The GRAD is embedded within the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA-IIs) and measures the writing, reading and mathematics proficiency of high school students. The Class of 2010 will be the first students required to pass the GRAD in order to graduate.
In Minnesota, all teachers use the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards to instruct their students. These standards - that are tested on the Minnesota GRAD - are developed by Minnesota teachers. For instance, the Mathematics GRAD test is based on the 2003 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Mathematics. A committee of Minnesota teachers identified the essential skills and knowledge necessary for graduation in the 21st century. Detroit Lakes teachers were included in this process.
Minnesota educators serve on the teacher committees that review all test questions, included in both the MCA-IIs and the GRAD, multiple times throughout the test development process. These teachers ensure that the test questions reflect instruction in Minnesota classrooms.
Since the GRAD is aligned to the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards and instruction by Minnesota teachers is aligned to those same standards, the necessity for students to prep for a specific test should not be extensive.
By requiring high school graduates to reach a specified level on each of these assessments, Minnesota is ensuring its students are on track to have the essential skills and knowledge necessary for graduation in the 21st century.
The next generation of assessments will be aligned to the most current version of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards. In Mathematics, the MCA-III in Grades 3-8 is scheduled to be ready for students in 2011 and it will be aligned to the 2007 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Mathematics.
Minnesota's seniors have three more months to prepare for college and career success after high school. Educators, parents and the community need to focus on how we can help our students to become proficient and prepare them for success in a hypercompetitive world.-- Alice Seagren, commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education