Weather Forecast


Tiger Talk: Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

With the cold weather we have been experiencing, spring seems far away.

However, as we enter into the second half of the school year, our thoughts turn toward spring assessments.

Each year our students are given Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) in mathematics, reading and science. These, as well as other state tests, are developed and formatted to assess federal and state academic standards.

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is the current vendor for the MCAs. Its website,, is often referred to as the Minnesota Assessments Portal. AIR provides a variety of resources for families, teachers and students to become more comfortable with the content and format of the tests.

One such resource is the Item Sampler, which has fewer questions. While it should not be used as a predictor of a student’s performance, it is aligned to the Minnesota Academic Standards.

As we often hear, it takes a village to raise a child, and each experience we share with them can be important to how they relate to the world around them. I thought it might be fun for you to experience some of what our children are learning and what is expected of them as it relates to state testing.

Try some of these questions based off the 8th Grade Item Sampler:

• A student is growing a garden. In her garden, she is growing many types of fruits and vegetables, including bell peppers. Which factor affecting the growth of pepper plants is a living factor?

A. The temperature of the air.

B. The kinds of bacteria living in the soil.

C. The amount of water the plants receive.

D. The amount of sunlight the plants receive.

• Read this paragraph: “When she arrived home, Kellan threw herself on the couch and reflected on the practice. The players reminded her of Fourth of July fireworks, exploding in a hundred different directions. They did not recognize each other’s strengths and had no idea how to work together.” The players seem most like “Fourth of July fireworks” because they:

A. Are interested in art rather than athletics.

B. Want attention rather than achievement.

C. Are energetic rahter than dedicated.

D. Act separately rather than together.

• An equation is shown: m = 4p + 3. When p is increased by 2, how much does m increase?

A. 2.

B. 4.

C. 7.

D. 8.

Go to the AIR website at Try several item samplers and see how you do. You can select from reading, math or science in grades 3-11. Have fun with this; make it a challenge.

Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?