NEW Released Math MCA Items

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), for the first time in its history, has released some math items for teacher and student use on our website. Supplemental information, such as metadata and answer option rationales, is provided to make the items more useful for classroom practice.

This release contains 81 items. The items were culled from the active item pool due to annual pruning for reasons such as overrepresentation of a benchmark, outdated context, span of difficulty levels, etc. These are not rejected items. This set of items does not reflect the distribution in the MCA test design, and therefore is not suitable for student placement decisions or as a predictor of performance on the MCA.

MDE is in the process of creating a permanent and more robust platform to house released items but, until that is completed, released items will be housed at the web page noted below.

Location of the Released Items

The released items can be found at or by navigating from the MDE home page ( MDE > Districts, Schools and Educators > Statewide Testing > Released Items. The released items include multiple choice (MC) items as well as technology-enhanced (TE) items. Please note that these items are different from the items found on the item samplers.

The initial list on the right side of the page contains all of the items that are released. This list can be refined by using any of the drop-down filters in the left pane: Subject (currently only math items), Grade (3–8), Strand, Item Type (MC or TE), Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels (I, II, or III), and Calculator Usage [CL (calculator) or NC (non-calculator)].

The proportions of items for each standard, benchmark, DOK, item types, etc. that are shown in the released items do NOT reflect the proportions on the Mathematics MCA-III as a whole. For example, there are DOK III items on the math MCA but no DOK III items were released. For information on the breakdown of the MCA test, please visit MDE > Districts, Schools and Educators > Statewide Testing > Test Specifications (


Key Word Search

If you would like to search all items for a key word you can type it in the search field located above the list of items to bring up any items with that key word. In the search box you can put key words (e.g., names, context activities, math concepts, shapes, etc.) as well as item ID numbers, benchmark, etc. The key word search is limited to just a few select words per item but we hope that it helps you find what you are looking for.

 Sorting the list

A way to organize these items is to sort the list by Strand, SSB (benchmark), Key, Item Type, DOK, or Calculator Usage. You can click on the grey up or down arrows to organize the list into either ascending or descending order. When the sort is completed the arrow will turn blue (see image below). This page cannot hold “multi-tiered” sort orders but only sorts one category at a time. Please use the filters in the pane to the far left for any desired “multi-tiered” sorting you would like to do with this list of items.

 Viewing the Item Images and Rationales

To view an image of the item click on the blue ID number to open/download the PDF. Each item PDF is two pages long. The first page contains the item image as well as the item ID. The second page contains the rationale(s) for the answer options and the item ID.

The rationales (reasons for each answer option) are included with each of the items to assist any error or distractor analysis that teachers may want to do with their students. Please note: all answer options for any item on the MCA must have a plausible reason (approved by a panel of MN teachers) to be listed as an incorrect answer option.

MDE released these items in hopes that teachers would find them useful for their own knowledge and professional development as well as a resource to use with students for classroom activities. We realize that these 81 items translate into a relatively small number of released items for each grade (with none being released for grade 11). We hope to release more (including some for grade 11) in the next few years in this location or on the parent-teacher portal that is in development.

As always, please contact Angela and Ann with any comments or questions (or suggestions for the released item website or the parent-teacher portal).

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