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Alternative Maryland School Assessment (Alt-MSA). Maryland State Board of Education August 26, 2008. Relationship between the General Curriculum and the MSA Program. Alternate Assessments based on Alternate Standards.

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alternative maryland school assessment alt msa

Alternative Maryland School Assessment(Alt-MSA)

Maryland State Board

of Education

August 26, 2008


Alternate Assessments based on

Alternate Standards

NCLB 2001 allows states to define alternate academic achievement standards—

  • Aligned with the State’s academic content standards;
  • Yield results separately in reading/language arts, math, and science;
  • Designed to use of the results to determine AYP;
  • Should not focus on functional skills or IEP goals,
  • IEP goals that reference the content standards may be assessed and are appropriate to be included; and
  • Meet requirements for technical adequacy.

National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)

Assesses students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Reports student mastery of individually selected indicators and objectives from the reading, mathematics and science content standards.

It is a portfolio assessment constructed of evidence that documents individual student mastery of the reading, mathematics and science objectives.

Maryland’s Alternate Assessment



Mastery Objectives selected by the IEP team based on student’s instructional level

  • Combines instruction consistent with the Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Provides framework for the instructional program for students with significant cognitive disabilities
  • Timeline for Alt-MSA is a 6 month window of instruction and assessment: September 2, 2008 – March 18, 2009
alt msa participation guidelines
Alt-MSA Participation Guidelines
  • Learning extended at emerging, readiness, or functional literacy levels
  • Explicit and ongoing instruction in functional skills
  • Substantial modification of general education curriculum
  • Instruction that may require extensive supports
  • Extensive support to perform and participate meaningfully and productively in daily activities
  • Cannot participate in the ModMSA even with accommodations
characteristics of students who participate in alt msa
Characteristics of students who participate in Alt-MSA
  • Limited Communication
  • Very limited Academic Achievement
  • Highly Specialized Instruction
  • Extensive Supports:
access to content through assistive technology
Access to Content through Assistive Technology

Communication Book using Picture Communication Symbols (PCS)

DynaVox 3100

Tech Talk



4 Talk

sample grade 6 math sample
SAMPLE:Grade 6 Math Sample

Master Objective (Math 9) – Given objects/pictures of objects in a patterned set. [STUDENT] will identify the number of items with 2 partial physical prompts. 1 time with 100% accuracy.

Student direction: [STUDENT] will dot the correct number using a bingo dabber.

How many sea animals are in each set?





sample reading aligned with science
SAMPLE:Reading Aligned with Science

Master Objective (Reading #4) – Given vocabulary words from a grade-level content unit, [STUDENT] will identify the correct word to use in a sentence/phrase with 2 model prompts. 1 time with 100% accuracy.

Observable and Measurable Student Response: Select the appropriate pre-glued symbol and place it in the space provided.

Alignment to Grade-Level Curriculum: Grade 3 Chemistry – A. Structure of Matter

1. Identify ways to classify objects using supportive evidence from investigations of observable properties.

a. Classify objects based on their observable properties.

Accuracy Score:

Prompts: ___ Independence: _2_ Gesture: _1_ Verbal: ___ Model: ___ Partial Physical: ___ Full Physical: ___


Water is a

Ice is a




evidence artifacts
Evidence (Artifacts)
  • Acceptable Artifacts (Primary Evidence)
    • Videotapes-1 reading and 1 math mandatory
    • Audiotape
    • Student work (original)
    • Data collection charts (original)
  • Unacceptable Artifacts
    • photographs, checklists, narrative descriptions
what is standardized in the alt msa
What is standardized in the Alt-MSA?
  • Number of mastery objectives assessed
  • Format of mastery objectives
  • Content standards/topics assessed
  • All MOs must have baseline data and evidence of mastery at 80%-100%
  • Types of artifacts permissible
  • Components/Requirements of artifacts
  • Training and Handbook provided
  • Scoring training and procedures
what is flexible in the alt msa
What is flexible in the Alt-MSA?
  • Which mastery objective within content standard/topic to assess
  • May write MOs vs. select from MO bank
  • Use of prompts
  • Type of artifact used
    • work sample, audiotape, videotape, data collection
alt msa

Alternative assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities

  • Assesses reading, mathematics and science
    • Reading and math are administered at Grades 3-8 and 10
    • Science is administered in Grades 5, 8, and 10
  • Portfolio assessment- tasks specific to IEP
  • Reading and math scores included in AYP: 1%
alt msa standard setting
Alt-MSA Standard Setting


  • New assessment (NCLB)
  • First standard setting

Reading and Mathematics

  • Review, verify and realign
standard setting work flow
Standard-Setting Work Flow

8 content groups

Week of

July 28th

Psychometric Council

Review & Articulation Committee

Week of August 18th

State Superintendent

State Board of Education



Set Alt-MSA Standards

8 standard setting groups
8 Standard-Setting Groups

Teachers who work with the student population

  • Alt-MSA Science (2 groups)
    • Lower (Grades 5 and 8)
    • High School (Grade 10)
  • Alt-MSA Reading (3 groups)
    • Elementary (Grades 3-5)
    • Middle (Grades 6-8)
    • High School ( Grade 10)
  • Alt-MSA Mathematics (3 groups)
    • Elementary (Grades 3-5)
    • Middle (Grades 6-8)
    • High School ( Grade 10)
alt msa scoring
Alt-MSA Scoring
  • Alt-MSA uses raw scores
  • Portfolios receive a score between 1 and 10
  • Process is to determine which score range represents performance that is considered proficient and advanced
reasoned judgment procedure
Reasoned Judgment Procedure

To make their judgments participants consider:

  • Exemplar portfolios (all possible score points)
  • Performance level descriptors
  • Design and scoring of the assessment
  • Their experience working with these students


Portfolio Score of 1

Portfolio Score of 10

the questions
The Questions

Participants are asked:

  • What score should a student receive on their portfolio to be considered “just barely” proficient?
  • What score should a student receive on their portfolio to be considered “just barely” advanced?

Note: Assessment is not content based- it is individualized to IEP objectives

review and articulation
Review and Articulation

Week of August 18, 2008

  • Superintendents
  • Local Accountability Coordinators
  • Local Directors of Special Education
  • Teachers
  • Central Office Personnel
  • Advocates for students with special needs
  • Parents
  • Business Community members
  • MSDE
science impact data
Science Impact Data

Percent of Maryland Students Scoring Proficient and Advanced on 2008 Alt-MSA Science Portfolio

reading impact data
Reading Impact Data

Percent of Maryland Students Scoring Proficient and Advanced on 2008 Alt-MSA Reading Portfolio

math impact data
Math Impact Data

Percent of Maryland Students Scoring Proficient and Advanced on 2008 Alt-MSA Math Portfolio

next steps for alt msa science assessment
Next Steps for Alt-MSA Science Assessment

September 1

  • Implement cut scores, double check the data for accuracy at school and system level

Late September

  • Parent reports on Alt-MSA Science sent to school systems
  • Data added to regular MSA science data and reported on website