Maryland Integrated Science Assessments (MISA)



Grade levels

5, 8, and high school

About the test

The Maryland Integrated Science Assessment is administered to all students in fifth grade, eighth grade, and high school every spring. The test was first administered in the 2016-17 school year for grades 5 and 8, replacing the former Maryland School Assessment (MSA) in science. The high school MISA began as a field test in the 2017-2018 school year.

The major differences in the MISA are due to the implementation throughout the Local School Systems 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 ConceptsCrosscutting 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 IdeasDisciplinary 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.

Information about the grades 5 and 8 MISA

The test is made up of four “units.” In each of the first three units, students will read information about two separate phenomena and answer questions. One of those questions will be a constructed response question, and the other questions will be a combination of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, and other technology-enabled item types.

  • Units 1–3
    • 2 tasks in each, which are based on scientific phenomena
      • 1 constructed response question for each task
      • 5 other types of questions for each task
  • Unit 4
    • 1 task similar to those in units 1–3
    • 1 extended task that may include a simulation

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.

Information about the high school MISA

The High School Maryland Integrated Science Assessment (HS MISA) is the final assessment in a series of science assessments that a student will take aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.  The HS MISA was field tested in the 2017-18 school year, replacing the HSA Biology assessment at the high school level.

The assessment consists of four sessions. In each of the sessions, students will read information about two separate phenomena and respond to items about each. One of those items will be a constructed response item and the other items will be a combination of selected response, fill-in-the-blank, matching, and other technology enhanced item types.

Each session will be administered for approximately 40 minutes. The assessment can be administered with a session given each day during a regular class period or multiple sessions can be administered in the same day.  Each school system has the flexibility to administer it in a manner which will have the least amount of disruption to the school day.

Sessions 1-4

  • 2 item sets in each session, which are based on scientific phenomena
  • 1 constructed response item for each set
  • 5 other types of items for each set