Northfield Public Schools Assessment Framework

The Northfield Public School’s District Assessment Plan articulates a balanced system of assessment that:

  • Aligns with Minnesota and district standards
  • Supports our district mission
  • Provides assessment information that is compatible with information from previous grades
  • Provides data to be used by Professional Learning Communities for strengthening instructional approaches
  • Utilizes an array of assessment methods which provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding and knowledge

In addition to a variety of formal and informal classroom assessments administered by teachers as part of routine instruction, all students participate in the following benchmark assessments:

Northfield Kindergarten Academic Benchmarks – measures student progress toward mastery of state standards in literacy and math.

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS): Screens students for reading difficulties, as well as monitors the progress of students who have shown weakness in a specific area of reading.

The one-minute, nationally normed assessments, given in the fall, winter and spring, measure:

  • Phonemic Awareness (FSF, PSF – Grade 1): Hearing and using sounds in spoken words
  • Alphabetic Principle and Phonics (LNF, NWF – Grades 1 and 2): Knowing the sounds of the letters and sounding out written words
  • Accurate and Fluent Reading (ORF – mid Grade 1 to Grade 5): Reading stories and other materials easily and quickly with few mistakes
  • Comprehension (DAZE – Grades 3 – 5): Understanding what is read or spoken

DIBELS Math: Measures essential foundational skills that every child must master in order to become proficient in mathematics and also monitors the progress of at-risk students while they receive additional, targeted instruction.

  • Computation (Grades 1-5): assesses fluent retrieval of basic math facts, a foundational skill leading to the development of higher-order mathematical skills.

Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): The Northwest Evaluation Association’s online adaptive math and reading tests help teachers, parents, and administrators improve learning for all students and make informed decisions to promote a child's academic growth. MAP tests are required for all K-2 students in the fall and spring, grades 3-5 in the fall, and optionally administered in the winter.

MAP tests are tailored to an individual's current achievement level. This gives each student a fair opportunity to show what he or she knows and can do. Because the computer adjusts the difficulty of the questions as the test progresses, each student takes a unique test resulting in a nationally normed RIT score.

**The MAP test was most currently aligned to Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in 2014. This alignment resulted in the establishment of MN Predictor Scores, which identify performance-level scores on the RIT scale that would indicate a good chance of success on the spring MN MCA tests.

Text Leveling Assessments: Northfield uses text leveling assessments from several vendors including Fountas and Pinnell, Pearson and Renaissance Learning. These assessments provide teachers with an accurate measure of a student’s reading level and reading behaviors, and allow for appropriate choice of reading material to support and maximize student growth.

ACCESS for ELs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners): an English language proficiency assessment given annually to Kindergarten through 12th graders who have been identified as English language learners. The ACCESS test monitors student progress in acquiring academic English.

Minnesota Standards-Based Accountability Assessments (MCA and MTAS Tests) (Grades 3-8, 10, &11): The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) and alternate assessment Minnesota Test of Academic Skills (MTAS) are the state tests in Reading, Math and Science, that help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and also meet the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Career and College Readiness Tests

  • ACT Plus Writing - this assessment provides information to grade 11 students, their parents, and educators regarding the level of preparedness for postsecondary success on a nationally recognized college entrance exam.
  • EXPLORE - this assessment provides information to grade 8 students, their parents, and educators about students’ achievement in Reading, English, Mathematics, and Science. The assessment includes a career interest survey.


Each of the components in the district assessment framework contributes to a more complete understanding of each student and together these assessments help to monitor student progress and guide instruction in every classroom.

Purpose of the Minnesota Assessment System
The Minnesota Assessments System has three purposes:
  1. To measure achievement towards meeting the Minnesota Academic Standards (for the Standards-Based Accountability Assessments) and to measure progress towards meeting Minnesota’s Standards for English Language Development (for English Language Proficiency Assessments). Each of these assessments is designed to measure student performance on the academic or language development standards. For the Standards-Based Accountability Assessments, the test specifications indicate which strands, sub-strands, standards, and benchmarks will be assessed on the test and in what proportions. Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions about Minnesota’s K–12 Academic Standards on the MDE website for more information about the Minnesota Academic Standards (MDE website > Educator Excellence > Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction).
  2. To provide Minnesota graduates information related to career and college readiness. Minnesota expects its high school graduates to demonstrate the skills and knowledge necessary for success beyond high school. Based on the revisions to Minnesota Statute 120B.30, the graduation assessment requirements are transitioning to a new series of Career and College Assessments. These requirements will be discussed in detail later in this chapter.
  3. To measure the academic progress of students over time. Minnesota has implemented two complementary approaches to measuring academic progress of students across time. Starting in 2007, the year-to-year progress of each student and cohort of students on the Reading and Mathematics MCA-II was reported on a uniform score metric (the Progress Score) that spanned grades 3–8. The deployment of the Mathematics MCA-III in 2011 and Reading MCA-III in 2013 have required creation of new progress scales that are not directly comparable to the original MCA-II Progress Score. The Progress Score is included in the District and School Student Results (DSR and SSR) files and is printed on the Individual Student Report (ISR) in grades 3–8; it only includes data from MCA-III tests. Teachers and administrators can use Progress Scores when making instructional decisions. With input from educators, the Minnesota Department of Education has also created a growth model. Minnesota’s Growth Model helps parents and educators compare each student’s year-to-year achievement change against that of students who began the year at equivalent achievement levels. Refer to Chapter 10 for additional information about growth.