GRAD Standards

Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma (GRAD) Questions and Answers

What does GRAD mean?

GRAD, or Graduation-Required Assessments for Diploma, refers to three tests (reading, mathematics and writing) that students who entered grade 8 in 2005-06 or later must pass in order to graduate from a Minnesota public high school. Students who entered grade 8 in 2004-2005 or earlier must pass the Basic Skills Tests (BSTs) to receive a diploma.

What is the MCA-II/GRAD?

Two of the GRAD tests will be part ofthe Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments-Series II (MCA-II) tests associated with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The grade 10Reading MCA-II and the grade 11 Mathematics MCA-II will serve dual purposes. First, the state will use them to determine whether the student's school and district have met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  Second, students will use them to demonstrate that they have the reading and math skills Minnesota requires for graduation.

What is the GRAD Test of Written Composition?

The GRAD Test of Written Composition is a writing test that requires students to write to a prompt, and their essay is given a score between 1 and 6. A score of 3 or more is passing.

Who must take these tests?

All students in grade 9 must take the GRAD Test of Written Composition. All students in grade 10 must take the Reading MCA-II and all students in grade 11 must take the Mathematics MCA-II. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act(IDEA 04) says all students with disabilities must participate in statewide assessments.

For students with a disability, the IEP team decides whether and how the student participates:

•     take the MCA-II/GRAD, with or without accommodations, or

•     take the Minnesota Test of Academic Achievement (MTAS) for accountability and/or  graduation

When will students take the GRAD tests?

The GRAD Test for Written Composition was first given to ninth-graders in April 2007. The Reading MCA-II/GRAD will be first given to tenth-graders in April starting in 2008 and the Mathematics MCA-II/GRAD will be given to eleventh graders in April starting in 2009.

What does it take to pass the Reading and Mathematics MCAII/ GRAD?

There are a number of ways to pass:

                Have a proficient score on the

                Have a passing score on the GRAD
portion of the MCA-II/GRAD or

                Receive a Pass Individual (student on
an IEP or 504 Plan)

What happens if a student doesn't pass?

Students who don't pass the Reading or Mathematics MCA-II/GRAD will have multiple opportunities to take the GRAD Questions and Answers about the GRAD September 2007 component, most likely on a computer.

Students who don't pass the GRAD Test of Written Composition in grade 9 will be able to take the test during subsequent years, either during the statewide testing window or during retest windows. Please check with your student's school for the options available in your district.

What skills are included on the MCA-II/GRAD and what is the format?

These tests will measure proficiency on the Minnesota Academic Standards and other essential skills. The reading test will require students to read a variety of passages and answer multiple-choice and constructed-response, or short -answer,questions. The mathematics test will require students to solve a variety of problems and answer multiple-choice, gridded-response, and constructed-response questions. Gridded-response items require students to fill in answers on a grid. The GRAD retests for reading and mathematics will contain only multiple-choice questions.

How will the tests be scored?

The multiple-choice and gridded-response items in the reading and mathematics tests will be scored by computer; the constructed-response Trained scorers will score items. Trained professionals using specified guidelines evaluate the GRAD Test of Written Composition.

How can I see the MCA-II/GRAD results for my child, school and district?

All test results are sent to the school district. The district will deliver the results for your child to you. You can see the results for all schools and districts at the Minnesota Department of Education Website. Go to the "Report Card"section and click on the first letter of your school or district.

( - under Academic Excellence: School Report Card)

How can students prepare for the tests?

Please see our handout,'Test Preparation Suggestions for Students, Teachers and Parents," under the"Assessments section" of the Minnesota Department of Education Website for tips on content preparation, general test taking and calculator use.

( - under Accountability Programs: Assessment and Testing: Assessments)

Where can I find more information about the MCA-lls?

Go to the Minnesota Department of Education Website and follow these links:

Accountability Programs: Assessment and Testing: Assessments: GRAD Component of the MCA-II