Over thirty years of research show that early and active involvement by a parent throughout their child's education—helping with homework, talking about school, attending school activities—is the most powerful influence and has benefits that reach far beyond a student's preK-12 years. Parent interest in supporting their child's success on state assessments gives students a huge advantage.
Parent interest in supporting their child's success on state assessments is a huge advantage. State tests assess the Maryland Content Standards that describe what students are expected to know and be able to do and teachers are expected to teach these standards at the appropriate grade level or course. Assessment items on the state assessments should be an extension of classroom instruction and assessments. Consequently, the best way to support your child in being successful on state assessments is to support their active engagement in core classes and monitor their progress in those classes. This would include asking your child what he/she was learning; showing an interest in class work, homework, and test results; and talking to the teacher whenever you need more information about your child's mastery of the content standards. Though report card grades will be useful information in assessing how well your child performed in that class, you would not want to wait until a nine week quarter had been completed to find out if your child was struggling and needed help in any area.
How do I know what my child should be learning?
Maryland has developed Content Standards and a State Curriculum which together describe what students in Maryland are expected to know and be able to do at each grade level in the core content areas as well as in many electives. Since the Maryland Assessment Program tests students in Mathematics, Reading, and Science, you will be particularly interested in what those standards look like.
Until recently, the State Curriculum was called the Voluntary State Curriculum. A recent state board action removed the voluntary from the title. Consequently, your child's teacher is expected to provide instruction to your child's class that supports students in reaching proficiency on the state standards for that grade level.
The State Content Standards and State Curriculum were written for teacher use and parents may find them challenging to understand. The state curriculum documents are organized around content standards and topics, which are broad, measurable statements about what students should know and be able to do. Those standards are then described in more specific terms in Indicator statements. And finally, the focus is narrowed even further in Objective statements which provide teachers with very clear information about what specific learning should occur. It is at the objective level that MSA assessment items are written.
Since Maryland releases selected reading, math and science test items each year, you can see how the standards were assessed in previous MSA tests. The following links provide additional information about which indicators and objectives were assessed on these forms each year. Please note that there were many more forms that were given each year and not released that have different configurations of what is assessed.