Standardized Tests and Assessments Given in the HCPSS

HSA: Maryland High School Assessments and Mod-HSA: Modified High School Assessments

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October, January, April (seniors only), May, and summer

Middle and high school students upon completion of high school Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology and English 10 courses

A series of end-of-course tests that measure progress toward Maryland’s High School Core Learning Goals (CLGs) in Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology and English. The Mod-HSA tests are alternates to the tests in the HSA program and are designed for students who meet specific eligibility criteria. Both the HSA and Mod-HSA meet the testing requirements for high school graduation as well as the high school testing requirements for English/ Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

PSAT/NMSQT: Preliminary Sat/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test


Grades 10 & 11

Published by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Provides a practice opportunity for the SAT. Juniors who participate in the PSAT/NMSQT may be eligible for college scholarships. HCPSS contracts with the College Board to test all students in grades 10 and 11.

MSA: Maryland School Assessments, Reading and Mathematics

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Grades 3-8

Measures student achievement on the Maryland Content Standards in Reading and Mathematics. The test meets the federal testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB).


Maryland School Assessment in Science


Grades 5 & 8

Measures student achievement on the Maryland Content Standards in Science in grade 5 (testing content from grades 4 and 5) and grade 8 (testing content from grades 6, 7 and 8). The test meets the federal testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).


Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English state-to-state for English Language Learners (ELLs)


Grades K-12

Assesses the English Language Proficiency of English Language Learners. The test assesses a student’s proficiency in 5 areas: General Language, Language of Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English Language Arts.

ALT-MSA: Alternative Maryland School Assessment

September-March (Portfolio Assessment)

Grades 3-8 and 10

An assessment designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to participate in the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) even when accommodations are provided. The Alt-MSA measures a student’s progress on attainment of Mastery Objectives for Reading, Mathematics in grades 3-8 and 10 and in Science grades 5, 8 and 10.

AP: Advanced Placement Tests

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Grades 9-12 students enrolled in AP courses

College level courses/exams administered to students in the AP courses to earn advanced standing or credit at most high schools and universities.


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October, November, December, January, March, May, June

Grades 11, 12

The SAT assesses student academic readiness for college and is used for admission by colleges and universities. It tests knowledge of Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics.


September, October, December, February, April, June

The ACT assesses student academic readiness for colleges and universities. It tests knowledge of English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. Writing portion is optional.

Detailed data about Howard County student performance is available at mdeportcard.org