Imagine being an elementary-grade student who has been prepped virtually all year long for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, which rate abilities in reading and math. You’re taking the MCAs online - as nearly every student became required to do this year - and, all of sudden, the test starts to not work properly.

Imagine, now, being the teacher, who spent a bulk of the school year getting his or her students ready for the MCAs - a test that could also potentially have something to do with future employment status. And imagine being the school district superintendent, whose schools get rated on the basis of these test scores.

Three times in two weeks, online MCA testing was disrupted due to what have been deemed as glitches with provider Pearson’s testing system. It should go without saying that an online test taken by so many - and with the stakes as high as they are - should work properly.

But, even if the MCAs worked as intended this month, they’re far from flawless. For years, standardized tests have been attacked from multiple angles, with arguably the most common complaint being that intensive preparation results in a “teaching to the test” that impedes other important types of student learning. Now, however, schools and teachers themselves face being held accountable for a score over which they ultimately have no control.

We don’t necessarily take issue with evaulating students - and schools, and teachers - in some way. But the MCA, as it is currently administered, isn’t the right answer.

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