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Science MCA-III Item Samplers Are Available!

posted on 8:01 PM, April 19, 2012
The Minnesota Department of Education has released online Science MCA item samplers for grades 5, 8 and high school.  These online item samplers can be found at on the Minnesota Assessments Portal at  The Science MCA item samplers must be accessed using Firefox or through AIR’s secure browser.

The online item samplers and online student tutorials are intended to be used with students as an opportunity to practice the navigation buttons, online tools and familiarize them with the types of questions on the Science MCA-III.  The item samplers are NOT intended to reflect the depth and breadth of the content assessed on an actual test.  For more information on the proportions of items aligned to each standard and clarifications on how the each standard will be assessed, see the MCA-III Test Specifications for Science at .

A few notes about the available online Science MCA item samplers:

Simulations – On February 6, 2012 Science MCA item samplers were released that included 2-3 scenarios per grade.  On April 9, 2012, one simulation per grade was added to these item samplers.  Simulations are scenarios that have one or more simulative scenes that require students to manipulate variables and then view the results of that simulated situation. The simulations are field test items this year and do not count toward students’ scores.

Audio – In order to have students experience the new text-to-speech functionality in the item samplers, use the Secure Browser.  Text-to-speech replaces much of the recorded audio that was used in the Science MCA-II.

However, many animations in the Science MCA-III still have recorded audio that automatically plays when necessary with the animation. There are a few exceptions for animations that have a small amount of text above each animation. If students would like to have the text read aloud in these animations, they must use the text-to-speech functionality available for all students.

Students can practice both types of animations (those with auto-play audio and those with only text-to-speech) in the Science MCA item samplers when using the secure browser.

Teacher guide– A separate teacher guide with information about each question, including cognitive level, benchmark alignment and answer key is available for online Science MCA-III item samplers.  This teacher guide is located at

Online science tutorial – A student tutorial is also available at The online science tutorial is a combined tutorial and includes the Mathematics MCA, Mathematics MCA-Modified, and Science MCA.

Assessment Advisory Panels—Invites will go out soon for summer 2012

And as always, we are looking to include more teachers as part of the advisory panel review process.  If you or a science colleague would like to be a part of the process of reviewing the science MCA-III materials, please register in the advisory panel database at . We often hear that these panels provide important professional development for teachers who participate. In addition to walking away with a deeper understanding of the statewide science assessment and instructional discussions with colleagues from around the state, participants help us determine what is cognitively appropriate and ensure that the assessment matches best practices in instruction of the science standards.


If you have further questions concerning the Science MCA or science assessment resources please contact us at:

Dawn Cameron,, 651-582-8551

Jim Wood,, 651-582-8541