Educators: MCAs will take valuable time away from student learning

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Feb. 11, 2021 – The decision to proceed with the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments this spring will take away valuable instructional time when educators need to focus on their students’ academic and emotional needs, said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. 

“Minnesota students need their educators to focus on helping them catch up academically and emotionally after a year of traumas, disruptions and distractions. Educators are going to need every minute this spring to do it,” Specht said. “We can’t afford the huge time commitment, not to mention the added safety risk of stuffing students into computer labs, for the least-useful assessments of the year. This has not been a standard year. We don’t need a standardized test.” 

The Minnesota Department of Education informed educators on Wednesday that state and federal law requires districts to administer the MCAs this spring as if this was a normal school year, unless there’s new direction from the federal and state governments. 

Without that new guidance, the online reading, math and science MCAs will be administered in-person in school buildings. There is no option for administrating the test remotely to families that choose distance learning, although parents may opt out their children as in previous years. 

The department has already signaled its concerns with the reliability and comparability of the 2021 testing data due to the pandemic by asking for federal permission to discount its weight in the state’s North Star accountability plan. The state’s plan would put more weight on data from 2018-19 and 2021-22 instead. 

“This year has been incredibly stressful for students and educators. There’s no good reason to add to it — but we’re legally required to pile on testing anxiety this spring,” Specht said. “Why do this to kids? So the testing corporation can make a few bucks for data that doesn’t really help teach individual students and the state already doesn’t trust. It’s time to change these laws.” 

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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