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Systems for State Science Assessment
meet the requirements of NCLB, but also move beyond them in ways they thought most likely to improve students’ science learning. Each had a specific focus, selected to be consistent with different approaches that states may use in the design of their science assessments. These models are summarized in Chapter 2 and additional information about the design teams and their work appears in Appendix B.
The committee also asked two additional teams of experts to develop designs for assessments that would reflect current research on the ways in which students learn and represent knowledge in a given domain. These teams were made up of scientists, science educators, cognitive scientists, and teacher educators (see Appendix B). Using research on children’s learning, they developed learning progressions to depict the ways in which students might acquire knowledge over time, as well as ways in which that knowledge might be assessed. The models developed by these teams are summarized in Chapter 5.
The committee held a workshop at which representatives of education and policy organizations discussed the challenges related to science assessment facing legislatures, governors, chief state school officers, school administrators, school boards, teachers, and others. A second workshop provided the committee and design teams with stakeholders’ reactions to the model science assessment system designs described above. Discussions at the workshop helped the committee to conceptualize some of the important issues states would face in implementing any of these proposed designs.
Finally, the committee commissioned several papers to develop greater depth of understanding on particular topics. These papers addressed a range of topics: an analysis of frequently used procedures for gauging the alignment of assessments with standards; advances in the roles of technology in assessment systems; international approaches to science assessment; and the ways in which science assessments can be vertically scaled to better represent students’ achievement over time (see Appendix B). The papers as well as those written by the design teams are available at the committee’s web site at www7.nationalacademies.org/BOTA/Test_Design_K-12_Science.html.
ABOUT THIS REPORT
While research suggests principles to guide the development and operation of assessment systems and provides some guidance to states in choosing among available options, the design of assessment systems is not an exact science and has not been thoroughly researched. Therefore, the committee’s advice to states is in some cases based on our combined judgment and the experiences of our working group members. Although the research base is not complete, the range of ideas from which states can benefit is growing, as more states implement innovative