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Testing and Student Achievement

student writing

The Office of Testing is the school system’s point of primary contact for receiving the most up-to-date information from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) related to test administration procedures and test security policies and procedures. The Testing Office is responsible for training the Principals and the School Test Coordinators on the policies and procedures for administering the federal, state and county mandated assessments. The Testing Office identifies the students eligible to participate in these assessments. The Testing Office is involved with the pre-assessments procedures, the administration of the assessments and the post-assessment reports. The Testing Office helps the learning community make sound decisions to increase student achievement through successful test administrations.  - Contact Testing Office Staff -

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

No Child Left Behind Site students in front of bus

The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was designed to close the achievement gap by improving the performance of U.S. primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts, and schools, as well as providing parents more flexibility in choosing which schools their children will attend.

Students are required to be assessed in various content areas with the results categorized as Basic, Proficient, or Advanced for student achievement. As a result, Maryland students participate in the Maryland School Assessments, Alternate Maryland School Assessments, Maryland School Assessment – Science, and/or the High School Assessments.

Scores are reported for individual students, schools, school systems, and the state. Because of this individual student accountability, schools have made changes not only in the curriculum they teach, but also in how instruction is delivered.

The state mandated assessments provide educators, parents, and the public valuable information about student, school, school system, and state performance. Additional information about the results of these assessments can be found at:

A brief description follows for each state and county-mandated test that Anne Arundel County Public School students take. The guidance office in each school will have additional information about these tests and test-taking strategies for students.

High School Assessments (HSA)

Maryland HSA Site

The High School Assessments (HSA) consist of four tests—one each in Algebra/Data
students at computersAnalysis, Biology, English 10, and Government. Students, including middle school students taking high school level courses, take each exam after they have completed the corresponding course containing the Core Learning Goals. The High School Assessments in Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology, and English 10 also fulfill the requirement under NCLB that high school students be administered on an annual basis, an assessment in English, mathematics,student hold diplomaand science.  Intended to raise expectations for all high school students, the HSA measure achievement in the Core Learning Goals that have been set by the Maryland State Board of Education.  Students are required to earn a passing score on the HSA in order to earn a Maryland High School Diploma. Individual student results are shared with the parent/guardian.

Reviews for HSA Tests


Modified School Assessments (Mod-HSA)

Maryland HSA Site

The Mod-HSAs are Modified Assessments based on On-level Academic Content Standards and Modified Academic Achievement Standards. The Mod-HSA tests are alternates to the tests in the Maryland High School Assessment (HSA) program and are designed for students with disabilities who, based on a decision-making process undertaken by their IEP Team, meet specific eligibility criteria. The Mod-HSA tests are intended to meet the testing requirements for high school graduation as well as the high school test requirements for English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

Bridge Plan Academic Validation

Maryland HSA Site

MSDE recognizes that there will be some students who will struggle on the HSAs, even after they take the tests several times and take advantage of academic remediation. The Bridge Plan for Academic Validation would provide another way for students to meet the HSA graduation requirement and earn a high school diploma, while meeting the same standards as those students passing the HSAs. For more information visit the Maryland High School Assessments web site at: 


Alternate Maryland School Assessments (Alt-MSA)

Maryland Alt-MSA Site

The Alternate Maryland School Assessment (Alt-MSA) is Maryland’s assessment program designed for students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 with significant cognitive
student working on computerdisabilities. A student is eligible to participate in the Alt-MSA, if through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, it has been determined they cannot participate in the Maryland State Assessment (MSA), even with accommodations.

The Alt-MSA combines instruction consistent with the student’s IEP and assessments. It assesses and reports student mastery of individually selected indicators and objectives from the reading, mathematics, and science content standards or appropriate access skills. A portfolio is constructed of evidence that documents individual student mastery of the assessed reading, mathematics, and science objectives that are aligned with grade level Maryland Content Standards. Students are assessed in the science content standards in grades 5, 8, and 10 only. The statewide performance standards reflecting three levels of achievement: Basic, Proficient, and Advanced are reported for the Alt-MSA. Individual student results are shared with the parent/guardian annually.

For further information on the Alt-MSA, contact the Office of Special Education at 410-222-5410.

Maryland School Assessment (MSA)

Maryland MSA Site

As a result of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10 attending public schools in Maryland are administered annually the
child doing mathMaryland School Assessments. These tests are designed to measure student, school, county, and statewide achievement in the areas of reading, mathematics, and science. The reading and math tests are traditional paper and pencil assessments that include multiple choice and constructed responses. The MSA tests produce a score that describes how well a student masters the reading and math content specified in the Maryland Content Standards. Each student will receive a score in each content area that will categorize their performance as Basic, Proficient, or Advanced. Individual student results are shared with the parent/guardian annually.


Modified Maryland School Assessments (Mod-MSA)

Maryland MSA Site

The Maryland Modified School Assessments (Mod-MSA) are alternates to the tests in the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) program and are designed for students with disabilities who, based on a decision-making process undertaken by their IEP Team, meet specific eligibility criteria.


Maryland School Assessment-Science

student at computer

Maryland MSA Site

The Maryland School Assessment – Science is a measure of student achievement in science in grade 5 (testing content from grades 4 and 5) and grade 8 (testing content grades 6, 7, and 8). The test will consist of selected and constructed responses. Most of our students will test online for this assessment. Schools are held accountable for student achievement on MSA/Science testing (as measured in terms of the proficiency levels of Basic, Proficient, or Advanced). Schools are also responsible for ensuring that at least 95 percent of students participate in testing, as measured by each grade, content area, and disaggregated subgroup. Individual student results are shared with the parent/guardian annually.

English Language Proficiency Test: LAS Links

The English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) has been developed to meet the No Child Left Behind requirements for testing English Language Learners (ELLs) in English proficiency. ELPT is a standardized language proficiency test to determine a student’s abilities in English when his/her primary language is other than English. The students are assessed in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The assessment provides a comprehension score derived from the listening and reading domains. All English Language Learners from K–12 who are ESOL students will take the test annually. Individual student results are shared with the parent/guardian annually.

For additional information on the English Language Proficiency Test, please contact the ESOL office at 410-222-5425.

Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)
National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT)
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I)

American College Testing Program (ACT)

The College Board Site
American College Testing Program

In addition to the above state mandated assessments, high school students may opt to take a number of different tests offered by the College Board and/or the American College Testing Program.

people walking out of a school buildingThe Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is co-sponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation. High school students take the PSAT/NMSQT which can qualify them for scholarships and prepare them for the SAT I. In addition, a student's PSAT score is a reliable indicator of his or her readiness for AP courses. All eligible students in grades 9, 10, and 11 take the PSAT/NMSQT in October. This test measures student performance in language usage, writing, reading, and mathematics.

The SAT I is used by colleges as one of several admissions requirements. It is normally taken by college-bound students in grades 10, 11, or 12.

The College Board describes the SAT I as a test of reasoning that measures critical reading, writing, and mathematical reasoning skills students have developed over time and need to be successful academically. It is characterized as the best available independent, standardized measure of a student’s college readiness.

Check with your local high school guidance office for PSAT and SAT I, and ACT testing dates. Please note that a preparatory course for the SAT I is currently offered in all high schools.

Advanced Placement (AP)

College Board Site-Advanced Placement Exams

For each AP course, an AP Exam is administered at participating schools worldwide. There are 37 Advance Placement courses and exams. High school students may choose to take the Advance Placement (AP) exams in specific subjects such as English, foreign language, chemistry, history, calculus, psychology, biology, economics, computer science, environmental sciences, and fine arts. Except for AP Studio Art, which is a portfolio assessment, each AP Exam contains a free response section (either essay or problem solving) and a section of multiple choice questions. The modern language exams also have a speaking component, and the AP Music Theory Exam includes a sight singing task. Each AP Exam is given an overall grade of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, with 5.  Many colleges and universities will award college credit or accelerated course enrollment for students who score well on an AP exam.

Check with your local high school guidance office for more information on the Advance Placement courses and exams or contact the Office of Student Counselors and Guidance at 410-222-5280.