School Improvement in Maryland

MISA: Maryland Integrated Science Assessment

What is MISA?

MISA Descriptive Material

Maryland Public Schools- Testing Content and Data

Maryland Assessment

Some Facts about MISA:

  • The assessments meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • The assessments are administered in Grade 5, Grade 8, and High School.
  • The assessments include both selected response and constructed response items. Some selected response items are technology enhanced items.
  • The assessments are online assessments taken on a computer.
  • The assessments were developed by MSDE with input from Maryland educators.


MISA Descriptive Material

Maryland Public Schools- Testing Content and Data

Standards being assessed

Next Generation Science Standards

The Maryland Integrated Science Assessment (MISA) are science assessments in Grade 5, 8 and High School. These assessments provide educators, parents, and the public with information on student progress towards science literacy.

How is MISA different?

The Standards

The major differences in the MISA are due to the implementation throughout the Local Education Agencies of the new science standards which are different from previous standards. In 2013, the Maryland State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the new Maryland Science Standards.

The ever-changing world of the 21st century demands increased proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for all. Maryland’s vision is to continue to be an international leader in science literacy and STEM education and to produce a college- and career-ready citizenry. Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards will ensure that all Maryland students have the essential knowledge and understanding of science and engineering necessary to engage in public discussions on science-related issues, to be critical consumers of scientific information related to their everyday lives, and to become lifelong learners and global leaders.

View more information on the development of the NGSS

The NGSS standards integrate three dimensions necessary to understand science.

Dimension 1: Science and Engineering Practices
The Science and Engineering practices describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems.

Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts
Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include: Patterns, similarity, and diversity; Cause and effect; Scale, proportion and quantity; Systems and system models; Energy and matter; Structure and function; Stability and change.

Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas
Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the Earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science. Disciplinary core ideas focus K–12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science.
Each performance expectation found in the NGSS incorporates all three dimensions.

Differences in the Assessment

In order to assess the three dimensions of the performance expectations found in the standards, a set of interrelated items is required. There are no items on the MISA that are not part of an item set.

The MISA uses the item set as the building block of the assessment. Specific items may focus on two of the dimensions, but together in a set, all three dimensions are covered and inferences can be made about a student's three dimensional learning.

Each item set on the MISA has a stimulus that focuses on a specific real world context or phenomenon. The stimulus and items form a storyline and includes multiple components that work together to partially or fully assess a bundle of chosen Performance Expectations (i.e., a group of related Performance Expectations from the NGSS). This requires students to explicitly use their understanding of the three dimensions to make sense of the information provided to them.

The stimulus may include technical passages to read, a video, charts/diagrams, or a simulation with which the student interacts. The stimulus may include multiple tabs for student interaction. After the student interacts with the stimulus they will be given six items that are supported by the stimulus. The items will be a variety of selected response(s), constructed response, or technology enhanced items such as drag and drop or hot spots.

The items will appear on the right side of the screen one at a time while, the stimulus will appear on the left side of the screen. The students can refer to the content in the stimulus while answering all the items in the item set.