The Office of Accountability and Assessment is the school system's primary point of contact for receiving information from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) related to test administration procedures and test security policies and procedures. This office trains school principals and school test coordinators on the policies for administering the federal, state and county mandated assessments; identifies eligible students to participate in assessments; is involved with pre-assessment procedures, the administration of the assessments, and post-assessment reports; and works directly with schools, parents, and community members to provide analysis and interpretation of assessment data. To contact the ACPS Local Accountability Coordinator, Marsha Miller, call 301-759-2021 or email her at email@example.com.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001
The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) 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 www.mdreportcard.org
High School Assessments (HSA)
The High School Assessments, or HSAs, are three exams—one each in algebra/data analysis, biology, and English—that all students who entered 9th grade in or after 2005 must take and pass in order to graduate. (Students who entered 9th grade in or before 2004 are required only to take the HSAs.) The HSAs are only one component of Maryland's high school graduation requirements. Students must also earn state-specified credits, fulfill the state’s service-learning and attendance requirements, and complete any additional local school system requirements to receive a Maryland High School Diploma. For information about high school graduation requirements, contact your child's school counselor. 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 HSAs also fulfill the requirement under NCLB that high school students be administered on an annual basis an assessment in English, mathematics, and science. Intended to raise expectations for all high school students, the HSAs measure achievement in the Core Learning Goals that have been set by the Maryland State Board of Education. Individual student results are shared with parents/guardians. Click here for more information on the High School Assessments.
There are three ways to fulfill the HSA requirement:
- Students can earn a passing score on either three or four exams; or
- Students can use the combined-score option, which requires earning a total score of at least 1602 or 1208 (if the student failed the Government HSA). The combined-score option allows students to offset lower performance on one exam with higher performance on another; or
- Sucessfully complete the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation for those assessments on which the student has not achieved the passing score. The Bridge Plan cannot be used as part of the combined-score option.
What Happens If a Student Doesn't Pass?
Students can retake the HSAs as many times as necessary to pass. Students who do not pass an HSA should talk to their teachers or school counselors to find out how to get extra help before retaking the exam. Once students have gotten help, they can retake the exam the next time it is given. Each local school system has developed intervention strategies to help students master content in the three HSA content areas. For more information about those intervention strategies, contact the ACPS Local Accountability Coordinator, Marsha Miller, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Parents can also contact their child’s school to find out what help is being offered. The state has also developed resources to help students pass the HSAs. MSDE has developed online courses that teachers and parents can use with students to help them pass the exams. Additionally, each year MSDE releases one assessment per subject to the public.
Latest News: Government High School Assessment (HSA) Eliminated After May 2011
The last administration of the Government HSA was in May 2011. Students graduating in the Class of 2012 and beyond will not be required to take or pass the Government HSA or complete Government Bridge Projects. Now students can meet the HSA graduation requirement by obtaining a 1602 composite score if they passed the Government HSA prior to May 2011, or by obtaining a 1208 composite score if they failed the Government HSA. If students do not meet the required composite score they may complete Bridge Plan project(s) to meet the HSA graduation requirement.
Modified School Assessments (Mod-HSA)
The Modified HSAs, or Mod-HSAs, is an alternative for students with disabilities who are able to make progress toward grade-level standards. The Mod-HSAs, which are available in the three HSA content areas, are based on the same course content as the HSAs, but the question format may be altered. The Mod-HSA option is available for a student with an IEP who has received course credit but has failed the related HSA at least once and whose participation is approved by the IEP team. The Mod-HSAs are administered at the same time as the HSAs. Students with disabilities who pass the Mod-HSA are eligible to earn a Maryland High School Diploma. To find out whether your child is eligible to take the Mod-HSAs, contact his or her IEP team. Click here for more information about the Mod-HSA.
Bridge Plan for Academic Validation
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 is an instructional intervention which provides students who are having difficulty on the HSAs an alternative means to meeting the graduation requirement. The Bridge Plan is for students who have passed the HSA-related course but have not passed an HSA after two or more attempts. To be eligible for the Bridge Plan, the student must also be making satisfactory progress toward graduation; have participated in locally administered or approved assistance; and have demonstrated satisfactory attendance as determined by local standards. Click here for more information on the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation.
Maryland School Assessment (MSA)
The Maryland School Assessment (MSA) is a test of reading and math achievement that meets the testing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The test is given each year in early March in reading and math at grades 3 through 8. These tests are designed to measure student, school, county, and statewide achievement in the areas of reading, mathematics, and science. The test includes multiple-choice questions and questions requiring written responses. It measures basic as well as higher level skills. Students take the tests for approximately 90 minutes each day. There are four days of testing––two days for reading and two days for math. The testing vendor sends the scores for individual students to local school systems. The school systems then distribute the scores to parents. The MSA scores show how well students learned the reading, mathematics, and science skills in the State Curriculum. A norm-referenced score is also provided to show how students performed compared to other students across the nation. Click here for more information about the Maryland School Assessment.
Alternate Maryland School Assessments (Alt-MSA)
The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 requires that all students be assessed and that students receive an individual score in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and a high school grade. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1997, also requires that states provide an “alternate assessment” when implementing statewide accountability systems. An alternate assessment is an assessment designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to participate in a regular assessment, even when accommodations are provided. Click here for more information about the Alt-MSA.
In Maryland, students with disabilities participate in either the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) in reading, mathematics and science (with or without accommodations, as appropriate) or in the Alternate Maryland School Assessment (ALT-MSA), as determined by the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team. The MSA is administered to students in grades 3-8 and 10 and tests students' attainment of grade level objectives in reading and mathematics. In addition, the Alt-MSA measures a student's attainment of science Mastery Objecitves in grades 5, 8 and 10. Students with significant cognitive disabilities who cannot participate in the MSA and the MSA/Science, even with accommodations participate in ALT-MSA. ALT-MSA assesses student attainment of their instructional level reading, mathematics and science mastery objectives that are aligned with grade level Maryland Content Standards.
Alt-MSA participation criteria:
- The student is learning (at emerging, readiness, or functional literacy levels) extended Maryland reading and extended Maryland mathematics content standards objectives; and
- The student requires explicit and ongoing instruction in functional skills; and
- The student requires extensive and substantial modification (e.g., reduced complexity of objectives and learning materials, and more time to learn) of general education curriculum. The curriculum differs significantly from that of their non-disabled peers. They learn different objectives, may use different materials, and may participate in different learning activities; and
- The student requires intensive instruction and may require extensive supports, including physical prompts, to learn, apply, and transfer or generalize knowledge and skills to multiple settings; and
- The student requires extensive support to perform and participate meaningfully and productively in daily activities in school, home, community, and work environments; and
- The student cannot participate in the MSA even with accommodations.
Students not meeting the criteria above will participate in the MSA, with or without accommodations, as appropriate, based on their IEP. For more information on the Alt-MSA, contact the Special Education Office at 301-759-2064.
English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT)
The 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 or h er primary language is one other than English. Students are assessed in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The assessment provides a comprehension score derived from the listening and reading domains. All ELLs from K-12 who are ESOL students will take this test annually. Individual student results are shared with parents and guardians. For more information on the ELPT, contact the ELL Office at 301-759-2064.
Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), American College Testing Program (ACT)
Most colleges are now requiring prospective students to take some type of entrance exam. The two most common are the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Testing Program (ACT). Students should contact the college or institution that they want to attend to determine which exam they need to take. It is suggested that students take the test at least twice because the colleges accept the composite of the higher grades.
Applications for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) 2011-2012 must be submitted five weeks prior to the test date. Information and registration forms for the College Boards may be obtained from each high school’s guidance office or at www.collegeboard.com. This test will be administered at Allegany High School center number 1516. The PSAT/NMSQT will be administered on October 12, 2011. All tenth grade students will be taking the PSAT on October 12, 2011.. Students in other grades may elect to take the PSAT on this date as well.
The American College Testing Program (ACT) 2011-2012 will be administered at Allegany College of Maryland center number 1679. See dates and deadlines below.
For each AP course, an AP exam is administered at participating schools. There are 37 AP courses and exams. High school students may choose to take the AP exams in specific subjects such as English, foreign language, chemistry, history, calculus, psychology, biology, economics, computer science, environmental sciences, and fine arts. Each AP exam contains a free response section (either essay or problem solving) and a section of multiple choice questions. Each AP exam is given an overall grade of 1-5, with 5 being the highest. Many colleges and universities will award college credit or accelerated course enrollment for students who score well on an AP exam. Contact your child's guidance office for more information on the AP courses and exams offered in ACPS or contact Lisa Stevenson, A&E Coordinator at email@example.com.