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MARS Testing Window

March 4- 15, 2016

MARS Exam-Silicon Valley Math Initiative

The Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative is a comprehensive effort to improve mathematics instruction and student learning. The Initiative is based on high performance expectations, ongoing professional development, examining student work, and improved math instruction. The Initiative includes a formative and summative performance assessment system, pedagogical content coaching, and leadership training and networks. Within the member school districts, the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative sponsors the annual administration of the MARS exam. As an ongoing member of the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative, the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District has administered the MARS Exam for the past 5 years.Click here to access the SVMI website.


What is the MARS Exam?

The MARS exam is a summative math performance assessment to measure students’ ability to solve non-routine problems, explain and justify their solutions and promote high level thinking skills. Student work is analyzed so the thinking and misconceptions can be reported to the schools to inform teachers and support improved instruction. This cutting-edge performance assessment, which is used by our teachers to inform instruction, is the main prototype for the new assessments that are being developed for the Common Core State Standards. The CCSS assessments will replace the CST/STAR test in 2015. This puts our students well ahead of the national curve in their experience with performance assessment. Each year the results of the MARS exam are reported to all stakeholders in the school system.

MARS Testing Window

In the beginning of March, your child will participate in a district-wide mathematics assessment called the MARS (Mathematics Assessment Resource Service) Exam.  This five-task assessment  gives our students the chance to apply the mathematical tools that they have been learning to the exploration of rich mathematical problems.

Our teachers are extensively trained each year to hand-score each exam using a point-scoring rubric.  Once all exams are scored and scores are entered into our database, exams are returned to classroom teachers for analysis. As a secure document, exams are not be sent home.  Each family will, however, receive a student report that will outline student performance and report student scores. 

The exam will span two consecutive days for 3rd– 8th grade students (tasks 1-3 on Day One and tasks 4 and 5 on Day Two).  Classroom teachers will decide on which two days in the testing window the exam will be administered.   2nd grade students will complete one task per day for 5 consecutive days.  There is nothing in particular that students needs to do to prepare for this exam except to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast before exam days.  The excellent instruction that they receive each day from their classroom teacher is all the preparation that is necessary.  Students will apply all the tools that they have accumulated over the years to these interesting problems. 

 If you have any questions about this exam, feel free to email our District’s math coach, Molly Johnson, at


MARS Quick Links