Skip To Main Content

Austin Public Schools

401 3rd Ave NW
Austin, MN  55912

District Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
7:30AM - 4:30PM

Assessment Overview

Graduation Assessments

In order to receive a diploma, students need to meet applicable graduation assessment requirements depending on when they first enrolled in Grade 8. Based on new legislation, enacted in 2015, the graduation assessment requirements have changed. Please refer to the Minnesota Department of Education Tests page and the  Parent Fact Sheets on the MDE Website.


Grade 11 students are provided the opportunity to take the ACT college readiness assessment, which is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions. The ACT consists of four test areas: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. Please visit for more information.

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA)

The primary purpose of the MCA is to measure the success of instruction based on the Minnesota Academic Standards and also meet federal and state legislative requirements. Students take one test in each subject:

  • Reading: Grades 3-8, 10
  • Mathematics: Grades 3-8, 11
  • Science: Grades 5, 8, and High School

Assessment results can be used to determine whether all students are mastering key content knowledge and attaining the skills necessary for future success in education and the workforce. Minnesota statutes require MDE to publish a form for parents/guardians to complete if they refuse to have their student participate in state-required standardized assessments.

MCA Parent Resource Page
District Test Security Procedures

Career and College Readiness

High school MCA scores can be used for placement at all Minnesota State colleges and universities or for Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) and College in the Schools programs. Minnesota state colleges accept MCA scores in place of ACT, SAT, and ACCUPLACER. Any high school student who earns a “college ready” benchmark on the MCA is not required to take a remedial, noncredit course in the corresponding subject area.

Districts have a number of requirements to fulfill for students’ career and college readiness. This includes offering students in grades 11 and 12 an opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized college entrance exam (ACT or SAT) on a school day.

Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS)

MTAS is a performance-based assessment in reading, mathematics and science for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. It is the alternate assessment available in every grade in which the MCA-III is available and features substantial reductions in the complexity of the academic content standards.

MTAS Parent Resource Page

English Language Proficiency Assessments

The ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs are the assessments developed by the WIDA consortium and administered to English learners in order to measure progress toward meeting Minnesota's standards for English language development. Most English learners will take the ACCESS for ELLs, but English learners who received special education services and meet the participation guidelines may take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. ACCESS for ELLs test items are written from the model performance indicators of WIDA's five English Language Proficiency (ELP) standards: Social & Instructional Language, Language of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies and test forms are divided into five grade level clusters (testing grades 1-12). More about ACCESS and Alternate Access.

Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) is a multiple-choice test designed to measure a child's academic aptitude. It is used to measure cognitive development among children and is often used to identify gifted children for admissions into gifted and talented programs across the United States. The CogAT is made up of three sections, called batteries: the Verbal Battery, the Quantitative Battery, and the Nonverbal Battery. They are designed to assess specific reasoning skills in each area that correlates strongly to academic success. More specifically, the CogAT measures cognitive development, the ability to learn new tasks, and problem-solving abilities. Because much of its content is nonverbal, the CogAT is also very useful for testing students who are not native English speakers. For additional information on this assessment, please visit the Cognitive Abilities Test overview page.

STAR CAT Assessments

STAR CAT (Computer Adaptive Tests) Assessments is a MN state aligned computer-adaptive diagnostic testing solution that provides educators and students with instant test results with personalized learning objectives that reflect the instructional level at the current time. It measures growth in core curricular areas of Reading and Mathematics. For additional information on this assessment, please visit the Star Assessments Site.

STAR CBM Assessments

The STAR CMB (Curriculum-based Measures) assessment suite is a set of research-based procedures and measures used for screening and progress monitoring in grades K - 6. For reading, a teacher listens and evaluates a student's oral reading fluency, including accuracy, error types, and qualitative features, while they read aloud from a grade-level passage for 1 minute. For mathematics, the assessments indicate a students' readiness or risk across key math skill areas, such as basic facts, multi-step computation and higher-order applied mathematics. For additional information on this assessment, please visit the Star Assessments Site.

Kindergarten Assessment

During school registration, incoming kindergarten students are assessed using the kindergarten assessment screener. The K-assessment, measures student readiness in a variety of domains including: letter recognition, sound recognition, word knowledge, numerical concepts and name recognition. This assessment is used to equip teachers with appropriate instructional levels and also gives them an opportunity to interact with parents before and after the assessment to gain additional information that supports student's learning.

Preschool Screening

Preschool screening is designed to measure educationally related developmental skills of children in the age range of 3 to 5 years old. The screening includes assessments related to speech and language, learning development, motor skills and hearing/vision test. For more information or to schedule a screening, contact the Early Childhood Education Department at 507-460-1709.

Corey Haugen
Director of Information Services