A state law requiring high school transcripts include a measure of college and career readiness takes effect this year.
“Our people in research, evaluation and testing as well as information services have been aware of this new law for months,” read a School Board brief authored by Jeff McGonigal, associate superintendent for secondary schools; Michelle VanDenTop, director of technology and information services; and Johnna Rohmer Hirt, director of research, evaluation and testing. “Until very recently they did not know what specifically would be expected on transcripts that would satisfy this requirement.”
Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments scores or status, ACT scores or status, or both are acceptable as a measure of college and career readiness, according to guidance from the state.
Students in grades 3-8, as well as high school sophomores and juniors, take MCA examinations each spring. Reading, math and science tests are administered, though not necessarily to all students in the same year.
MCA tests used to be a graduation requirement in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, but not anymore. Scores fell when the requirement went away.
The School Board wanted to put MCA scores on transcripts years ago, but state law prohibited it, Board Chairperson Tom Heidemann said.
Now that it’s possible, he would like to see scores included.
“Then there’s a reason for kids to want to take it seriously,” Heidemann said.
But members of the class of 2017 took the reading MCA their sophomore year and math and science tests last year without knowing scores might appear on their transcripts.
“We want all of those students to realize that those will be on the transcript now because that’s going to be a bigger deal,” Superintendent David Law said.
The district intends to phase in the inclusion of MCA tests so that students are aware test scores will appear on transcripts before they take the test and are motivated to give their best effort on examinations going forward.
“Transcripts will include ACT scores currently, and over the next few years they’ll include MCA proficiency on math and reading as students were made aware of that change and had the chance to take those tests a little bit more seriously,” Law said.
In 2015, all Minnesota high school juniors were required to take the ACT to graduate. That requirement was done away with the next year when state funding dried up. Schools are now required to offer the test to juniors and seniors who wish to take it.
The ACT is a standardized test used nationally. A perfect ACT score is a 36. The regular test has four sections: English, math, reading and science.
Administrators called inclusion of the ACT on transcripts “redundant” as students typically send ACT scores to colleges they are considering attending. But including scores on transcripts means complying with state law.