Assessments and testing

  • Willmar Public Schools uses a variety of tools to measure and determine a student’s academic growth and proficiency of grade-level standards. These tools range from informal assessments observed during classroom activities to formal, mandated assessments such as the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA), college entrance exams, and more. Educators can use these assessments to identify the needs of the students and adjust instructional strategies to meet the needs of their students and encourage individualized academic growth.

    Assessment descriptions

    ACCESS for ELLs: The ACCESS for ELLs test is an English language proficiency assessment given annually to students in kindergarten through 12th grade who have been identified as English language learners (ELLs). The test helps the school district monitor the English language development of students. It measures students’ abilities to understand and produce English used in school settings. The four sections of the test are listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The approximate ACCESS Online for grades 1-12 test administration time for reading is 60 minutes, listening is 65 minutes, speaking is 50 minutes and writing is 70-90 minutes. The Kindergarten ACCESS test administration time is about 45 minutes, and the Alternate ACCESS test administration is about 30 minutes for each section. Student results are mailed to families by September 30 each year. ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS Rationale/Source Requirement: ESSA 

    American College Testing (ACT): The ACT is a college admissions test, measuring what students learn in high school to determine their academic readiness for college. ACT is a content-based test that includes English, math, reading, science, and writing. The approximate administration time is three hours. Results are sent directly to families from ACT. College Entrance Exam Rationale/Source Requirement: Minnesota Statute section 120B.30 

    Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT): Each spring, all second graders are screened using the CogAT to determine potential eligibility for gifted and talented programming. The assessment measures a student’s verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal reasoning skills. Students who are newly enrolled in grades three through five at Willmar Public Schools or who are referred by a teacher or parent may also take the CogAT screener. The approximate administration time is 30-45 minutes.

    Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA): As required by law, Minnesota assesses student progress toward meeting state academic standards in reading, math, and science using standardized tests. Public schools administer the MCA reading and math tests in grades three through eight and once in high school, and the science test in grades five and eight and once in high school. The approximate test administration time for math and reading is one to two-and-a-half hours each, and science is one to one-and-a-half hours. Individual Student Reports are mailed to families or shared with families at conferences. 

    Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS): Most students take the MCAs, but students who receive special education services and meet eligibility requirements may take this alternate assessment. The approximate test administration time for reading is 60-90 minutes, math is 20-40 minutes, and science is 60-90 minutes. MCA and MTAS Rationale/Source Requirement: Minnesota Statute section 120B.30 and ESSA

    Pre-American College Test (PreACT): The PreACT provides 10th-grade students with a practice experience for taking the ACT test.  PreACT results give students, parents, and educators valuable insights into students’ predicted performance on the ACT as they plan for a future that aligns with their interests.  Also, the PreACT includes the ACT Interest Inventory to help begin thinking about careers and post-secondary education. The PreACT includes multiple-choice questions in English, math, reading, and science.  The approximate administration time is two hours.  

    Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT): The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT, and is also used by the National Merit Scholarship Program to award scholarships to high-performing students. Results are sent by the College Board to the students and families.

    Star Assessments: The Star Assessments are computer-adaptive tests that measure students’ reading and math achievement.  Star Reading and Star Math are given three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring) to measure growth.  Data from these assessments assist teachers in differentiating instruction as well as planning intervention and enrichment activities to foster growth in the academic areas.  The approximate administration time is one hour.  Teachers share student results with families.

    The Minnesota Report Card gives access to understandable district and school data. This tool is designed to provide parents, educators, schools, districts, and citizens with easy access to district and school information, test results, demographic information, and other data in a centralized location.

Willmar Public Schools Testing Calendar 2023-2024 K-12

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