MSDE staff and Maryland teachers have been writing and selecting test items since 1999. Potential test items go through an extensive process of editing and review to improve, correct, or eliminate poor items. Items are then field tested in schools. Based on an analysis of the field test responses, MSDE selects those items that help us reliably measure student performance for future test forms. The released assessments consist of a mixture of selected (multiple choice) and constructed (short and long written) response items (including gridded response items in the mathematics assessments). They are all psychometrically valid and reliable.
Beginning with the May, 2009 HSA administration, constructed response items are no longer part of all High School Assessments. This decision was made so that local school districts could receive HSA score reports quickly to make instructional decisions based on the results. However, MSDE continues to provide information regarding the scoring of Constructed Responses in the forms released prior to 2009 because students' performance on these items provide important information for teachers regarding what students know and still need to learn.
The High School Assessment Public Release Forms are released by MSDE each year in the fall to provide examples of how students will be assessed in each subject. Among the items released are brief and extended constructed responses. For each constructed response item released, MSDE has also provided student responses that were scored and annotations explaining why each response received that score. In addition to the anchor papers (those student responses that were selected to represent each rubric score for scoring purposes, MSDE also released an additional set of student responses that can be used by teachers to practice scoring. These papers are also annotated so that after teachers score the response, they can see the official score and an explanation of why the student response received that score. The grid below links to the available, annotated student responses.
A Scoring Tutor provides an audio/visual explanation of the rubric and anchor papers used to score the constructed responses.