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Divisions > Accountability, Assessment, and Data Systems > Docs > HSA

At its August 2003 meeting, the Maryland State Board of Education adopted HSA passing scale scores as recommended by the State Superintendent of schools.  This completed a comprehensive process that was begun months earlier when CTB/McGraw-Hill, who  uses a bookmarking process, was identified as the principal for setting HSA passing scores. The Maryland Standard Setting Technical Report, including the HSA, MSA, and IMAP components, is included in Chapter 7.

 7.1    Purpose, Committee Structure, and Timeline

The goal of the HSA program is to establish a common set of content and performance standards that all high school students must meet in order to receive a Maryland High School diploma. The Core Learning Goals define the content, and the purpose of the comprehensive standard setting process is to define the performance standards.

Maryland’s design for standard setting included multiple committees. Each committee was selected to bring a different perspective and experience to standard setting. MSDE staff was not part of any of the committees but served only as technical advisors when questions were asked. The fundamental work of standard setting was done by Content Committees composed of teachers, content supervisors and administrators.  All content committee members were nominated by their school systems. MSDE staff grouped content committee members to ensure broad geographic and demographic coverage within each group.

The Content Committee used a bookmarking process led by CTB/McGraw-Hill to identify cut scores.  A Technical Committee of psychometricians (Maryland’s Psychometric Council) reviewed the work of the content committee and the technical information from the standard setting vendor.  A Review and Articulation Committee, composed of school system superintendents and the leadership of fundamental education stakeholders, reviewed the content committees’ and technical committees’ recommendations and forwarded a recommendation to the State Superintendent. The State Superintendent reviewed all the previous committee work and forwarded a recommendation to the Maryland State Board of Education for action.


Winter 2003 CTB selected as standard setting vendors
Spring 2003 Local school systems nominate content committee representatives
May 2003 MSDE staff present the plan for standard setting to the Maryland State Board of Education
June 2003 CTB staff prepare Ordered Item Booklets (OIB) for use at standard setting
July 13-16 Content committees work to identify passing cut scores
July 17 Technical committee reviews work of vendor and content committees
August 2003  Review and Articulation Committee reviews content committee cut scores
August 2003 State Superintendent reviews work of all committees and prepares recommendation
August 2003 State Board adopts passing scores for the four HSA tests

7.2 Context for Standard Setting

 In May 2003 the State Board of Education adopted the following context that would form the basis for standard setting. "All" students would need to meet the passing score on algebra/data analysis, biology, English 1, and government assessments in order to earn a Maryland high school diploma. Two timelines were identified. The first was for students entering high school in 2010 and graduating in 2014, and the second was for students entering high school in 2004 and graduating in 2008. A power point presentation titled "Comprehensive Plan for the Redesign of Maryland’s High School Completion Policy" is included here. It includes an overview of the process for transitioning the high school assessments to high stakes graduation requirements as well as an overview of the bookmarking procedure used for standards setting.

To ensure that the new Maryland School Assessment (MSA) cut scores (identifying basic, proficient, and advanced performance) would be aligned with the HSA passing scores, both standard settings were conducted simultaneously. The MSA standards were adopted at the July Board meeting and informed the deliberations of the Review and Articulation Committee, the State Superintendent, and the State Board.

7.3 State Board of Education Action

At the August 2003 meeting the State Board of Education chose to adopt passing cut scores for students entering high school in the fall of 2005 and graduating in 2009. A memo from the Maryland State Board of Education is included here.

7.4 Technical Report from the Standard Setting Vendor: CTB/McGraw-Hill

Available in this report are an explanation of the standards setting procedure implemented by MSDE and the resulting recommendations.

Contact Information
Gary Heath, Assistant State Superintendent

Division of Accountability and Assessment
Maryland State Department of Education

200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
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