School Improvement in Maryland

HSA: High School Assessment Program

In 2015 Maryland implemented the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) state assessments in English Language Arts and mathematics. The new assessment replace the High School Assessments in Algebra I and English 10.

What do
assessments test?

High school assessments are a test of a student's knowledge of Core Learning Goals contained in certain course content areas. The tests will be given after the student completes a course containing the Core Learning Goals. In 2013 Students are required to take tests in English, Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology, and Government.

HSA Updates

Maryland High School Assessments & Your Child with translations

Bridge Plan
Updated Bridge Plan for Academic Validation

Testing Requirement and The Bridge Plan
Meeting the Maryland Testing Requirement for Graduation and The Bridge Plan to Academic Validation


More about HSA

What is the High School Assessment Program?

The Maryland High School Assessments (HSA) are tests that measure school and individual student progress toward Maryland's High School Core Learning Goals in in English, Algebra/Data Analysis, Government and Biology. Passing the HSA is a graduation requirement. Students take each test whenever they complete the course. For example, some students may take Algebra in seventh grade while others may not take it until tenth grade. The tests contain multiple-choice questions and questions requiring written responses. These questions are based on the content outlined in Maryland's Core Learning Goals. More information on the Core Learning Goals and sample test questions are available at

The Government HSA was reinstated with the 2012-2013 school year and students enrolled in the Government course must take the Government HSA. Students entering 9th grade in the 2012-2013 school year or in a prior year do not need to pass the Government HSA but, may choose to use the score to meet testing requirements by means of the combined score option for a combined score. Resources have been developed to help students prepare for the Government HSA including public release and sample assessment items. Theses resources can also assist teachers with designing appropriate formative and summative assessments for their students.

How do students meet the testing requirement?

What is the Maryland testing requirement?

For a student who entered the 9th grade in or after the 2005-06 school year to graduate from high school with a Maryland High School Diploma, he/she must meet the testing requirement as well as meet the State course requirements, service learning requirements, and local graduation requirements.

Starting with the administration of the Government HSA in the 2012-2013 school year, the following rules apply: Students entering 9th grade in the 2012-2013 school year or in a prior year (including students who entered 9th grade in 2011-2012, 2010-2011, or 2009-2010) do not need to pass the government HSA for graduation but may choose to apply the score toward a combined score. These students have two options to meet the combined score option.

  1. Students MAY achieve a combined score of 1602 on the English, Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology, and Government HSAs. OR
  2. Students MAY achieve a combined score of 1208 on the English, Algebra/Data Analysis, and Biology HSAs.

Students entering 9th grade in school year 2013-2014 and beyond MUST pass the Government HSA, meet the combined score of 1602, or use the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation to meet the HSA testing requirement.

How can a student meet the testing requirement?

There are three options to meeting the testing requirement, as follows:

  • Pass each of the High School Assessment (HSA) tests. There are two potential substitutions:
    • Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) Tests - For students who have earned a score approved by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) on the HSA-related AP or IB test
    • Modifed HSA - An alternative test for students with disabilities who meet the specific participation criteria based on their IEP process
  • Combined-Score Option - A student would need to earn a combined total as indicated above across exams to meet the testing requirement. This option allows students to offset lower performance on one test with higher performance on another.
  • Bridge Plan for Academic Validation - A student who has not passed an HSA after taking the test twice and meets eligibility criteria, including locally-administered or approved assistance, can complete one or more project modules in the content area. The projects modules will be submitted to a local review panel and the local superintendent for approval.

What criteria will a student have to meet to be eligible for the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation?

A student who has not passed an HSA test after two attempts would be eligible for the Bridge Plan if he/she:

  • participated in locally-administered or approved assistance;
  • passed the HSA-related course;
  • is making satisfactory progress toward graduation.

When can a student begin the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation?

Local school systems determine when a student may begin work on a Bridge Plan.

Will the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation be easier than taking an HSA test?

No. The Bridge Plan is a series of challenging projects linked to the Core Learning Goals tested by each HSA. Once a student is deemed eligible by the local school system to particpate in the Bridge Plan, he/she must complete one or more projects as determined by the student's highest HSA score in a specific content area.

What happens once a student is eligible for the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation?

A designated school staff member will meet with the student and parent/guardian to design an Academic Validation Project Package. The Academic Validation Project Package includes a number of forms that indicate which project module(s) the student must complete, the assigned work period, and the assigned project monitor. The forms also verify that the student's Academic Validation Project Package will meet the core values of academic integrity.

Who will review and approve the individual student project?

Once a student completes his/her Academic Validation Project Package, a local review panel, established by the local school system, will review the materials and provide a recommendation to the local superintendent. The local superintendent will conduct a final review for approval or refusal of the student's work.

How does the local superintendent's decision effect the student?

If the Academic Validation Project Package is approved, the student will have met the testing requirement for the specific HSA. If the Academic Validation Project Package is refused, written feedback will be provided to the student so he/she can continue work on the Project Package and resubmit at a later date. A student can also submit an appeal of a local superintendent's refusal in writing to the State Superintendent.

Are there alternative paths to meeting the testing graduation requirement?

Yes. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) recognizes that Maryland has a diverse population of students with diverse needs. The Modifed HSAs (Mod-HSAs) were developed for a small portion of students with disabilities. The Mod-HSAs are based on the same course content as the HSAs, but the question format may be altered.

To earn a Maryland High School Diploma, students must still meet all credit, service learning, and attendance requirements as well as any local school system requirements. A summary of state graduation requirements is available on the Maryland State Department of Education Web site at