In 2003, Maryland teachers and content specialists set passing scores for the algebra/data analysis, biology, and government HSAs. (Passing scores for the English HSA were set in 2006.) Teachers set passing scores at a level they determined virtually all students could achieve. The highest possible score on each test is 650; the lowest is 240.
Does MSDE generate scores for specific content within each subject?
Yes. MSDE began producing subtest scores (subscores) in 2004. Subscores are a breakdown of student performance on different test sections. Students’ subscores are sent to school systems and should be made available to parents upon request. In general, scores based on many test questions are more informative than scores based on fewer questions. That means HSA subscores at the student level are less useful than those at the state or school system level. Therefore, a good analysis of a student’s attainment of specific standards will include his or her performance on quizzes, unit tests, classwork, and homework.
Can the HSA identify passing and letter-grade performance?
No. Because passing the HSA is a graduation requirement, it’s critical that the tests produce the most valid and reliable information at the passing standard—which means most of the questions must be set at the difficulty level of that standard. A test designed to identify both passing and letter-grade performance would take students much more time to complete and MSDE more time to score.