State testing opt outs increase

Students choose not to take exams


Paige Steward

Junior Anna Gleason signs sheet to opt out of MCA testing May 5.

Nicole Sanford

Junior Eric Lehr decided to attend his classes as other juniors took the annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA), a trend seen in many students this year.

“I probably wasn’t even going to try on it anyway so I thought it was pointless to go,” Lehr said.

According to Prachee Mukherjee, Director of Assessment, Evaluation and Research at the St. Louis Park School District, approximately 250 juniors at Park didn’t take the Grade 11 Math MCA test this year, while only 20 students chose to opt out last year.

Mukherjee said she finds it important for students to take the standardized tests.

“[The test] allows us to look at ourselves in comparison to other districts, allows a student to see where they rank statewide, helps us look at an overall score of how are we doing, how are we improving, and the test helps us measure growth,” Mukherjee said. “I think most of all it helps us be accountable to see how good of a job we are doing.”

Lehr said he doesn’t think Park should force students to take the MCAs because students are not motivated to do well on them.

“I think they’re kind of stupid because most kids don’t even try on them so they really are just a waste of time,” Lehr said.

According to Mukherjee, all students have the opportunity to opt out of the exams, but problems form when too many students choose not to take them.counseling-dept-mcas

“Unless a certain number of students take the test, we can’t generalize to the whole grade level,” Mukherjee said. “It really puts us at a disadvantage in respect to knowing how well we are progressing towards the goal that we have set for ourselves.”

Sophomore Eva Arago said she decided not to opt out of the test.

“It makes the school look better if the average is higher,” Arago said. “I figured a lot of people were [taking the test], so I would try to help the school.”

According to Mukherjee, confusion surrounds the large increases in the amount of students choosing to opt out of MCA testing this year, but she hopes to engage in conversation on the topic.

“I would really like to know what teachers are thinking about opting out of the test, what students are thinking, and what parents are thinking,” Mukherjee said. “What are their questions, what are their reasons for taking the test or not taking the test.”