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Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP)

The Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) provides information to educators, parents and the public on student progress towards proficiency on the Maryland state content standards. Through a strong assessment system, stakeholders gain an understanding of how schools are performing and where assistance can be directed to support student growth and achievement.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that states administer annual statewide assessments to all students in English Languages Arts/Literacy and Mathematics in grades 3-8 and once in high school, as well as in science once in each grade span (3-5, 6-8 and high school), and annual English language proficiency assessments in grades K-12 for all English learners. Maryland also provides Alternate Assessments written to the Alternate Standards for those students who require this accommodation. Additionally, the majority of Maryland kindergarteners are administered the KRA to determine their readiness for kindergarten. Most assessments are a combination of Selected Response (multiple choice), Constructed Response (written response) and Technology Enhanced (drag and drop) test items.

2021 Early Fall MCAP Assessments: Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) used the flexibility granted by the United States Department of Education to extend the 2020-2021 assessment cycle. MSDE has scheduled an early fall 2021 assessment window during which shortened versions of the 2020-2021 English/language arts assessments (grades 3-8 and 10), mathematics assessments (grades 3-8, algebra 1, geometry and algebra 2) and the Maryland Integrated Science Assessment (MISA) (grades 5, 8 and high school) will be administered. MCPS will use a testing window between September 27 and October 22. Each individual school will determine its own testing schedule. Additional information about the 2021 Early Fall Assessments can be found in the Early Fall Overview.

Early Fall Overview Spanish


  • Testlet defined as a very short test or test section with just two or three test items
  • Stage Adaptive defined as subsequent test sessions delivered to the student depending on performance in a previous sessions
  • The Grade 3 English Language Arts/Literacy assessment will include items to assess the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards (MCCRS) Reading Foundational Skills.

Why do we have a middle school social studies assessment?

In 2017, the Maryland General Assembly amended Md. Ed. Art §7-203 Education Accountability Program. The amendment called for the creation of a middle school grade band assessment in social studies. The law states that the assessment shall be developed in collaboration with county boards, curriculum specialists, teachers, and academics with expertise in social studies education. It further defined the assessment by stating that it should, "Consist to the greatest extent possible, of criterion-referenced, performance-based tasks that require students to utilize critical and historical thinking skills and analyze primary sources."