Skip to Main Content

Maryland School Assessment


The average percent of public school students in grades 3 through 8 performing at or above proficient levels in reading and mathematics on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA).


Percentage of Students, Grades 3-8, Scoring At or Above Proficient on the Maryland School Assessment, by Academic Year
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Reading 68.4% 72.2% 74.2% 76.2% 82.2% 84.4% 84.8% 85.8% 85.2% 84.9%
Math 58.1% 64.6% 68.9% 71.8% 76.0% 77.9% 79.5% 80.0% 82.0% 78.2%

Data Source: Data compiled by Maryland State Department of Education

Story Behind the Data:

The MSA requires students in grades 3-8 to demonstrate their knowledge of reading and math.  The test produces a score that describes how well a student mastered the reading and math content specified in the Maryland Content Standards.  Students with severe cognitive disabilities who are pursuing an alternate course of study based on their Individualized Education Program (IEP) take the Alt-MSA, Maryland’s alternate assessment.  Each child receives a score in each content area that categorizes his/her performance as basic, proficient, or advanced.  This data provides parents, caregivers, teachers, and school administrators with objective information on how each student is progressing academically.

Overall, MSA scores have shown significant improvement from 2005 to 2013 in both reading and math as teachers used information from formative assessments, benchmarks, and the summative assessments (MSA) to identify areas of need.  During the 2013-2014 school year, however, Maryland and other states field tested the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) assessments.  The field test in Maryland was one of the nations’ most extensive, with virtually every Maryland school having at least one classroom taking the PARCC assessment.  The results of the latest MSA administration correlate directly to these important changes that have been taking place in Maryland public school classrooms, and the drop in scoring was expected.  The greater dip in mathematics results underscores the major differences in standards in that subject area, where instructional shifts to higher standards are most dramatic.

In Maryland, schools are measured using the Maryland School Progress Index (SPI).  SPI is based on high expectations and multiple measures that include student achievement data in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science; growth data in English/Language Arts and Mathematics; gaps, based on the gap score between highest-achieving and lowest-achieving subgroup in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Cohort Graduation and Cohort Dropout rates.  Maryland’s SPI separates schools into one of five categories which determine the district and State support schools receive.  The State affords top-performing schools greater flexibility while lower-performing schools receive progressively more prescriptive technical assistance, expectations, and monitoring.

By 2014-15, Maryland will fully implement the new PARCC assessments, which are aligned to the new standards and serve as a reset for the State’s accountability system.  Achievement information for schools, school systems, and the State is published in the annual Maryland Report Card.  This report provides SPI charts for each public school and local school system, showing the school/system’s progress on each of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Flexibility performance goals.

Additional Information: