Testing and Achievement

  • The Assistant Supervisor 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.
    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 a student, school, school system, and state performance. Additional information about the results of these assessments can be found at http://www.mdreportcard.org  
    High School Assessments (HSA)
    The High School Assessments, or HSAs, are two exams—one each in biology and one in government—that all students who entered 9th grade in or after 2015 must take and pass in order to graduate. 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. The HSAs also fulfill the requirement under NCLB that high school students be administered on an annual basis an assessment. Intended to raise expectations for all high school students, the HSAs measure achievement in the content standards that have been set by the Maryland State Board of Education. Individual student results are shared with parents/guardians.
    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 received 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 HSA content areas. For more information about those intervention strategies, contact the ACPS Local Accountability Coordinator, Trina McGregor, at trina.mcgregor@acpsmd.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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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 Debra Metheny, Supervisor of Special Education 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.

    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 lisa.stevenson@acpsmd.org.