• Analyze assessment data to guide teaching.

  • Guide students in self-assessment.

  • Use student data, observations of teaching, and interactions with colleagues to reflect on and improve teaching practice.

  • Use student data, observations of teaching, and interactions with colleagues to report student achievement and opportunities to learn to students, teachers, parents, policy makers, and the general public.

The word ''assessment" is commonly equated with testing, grading, and providing feedback to students and parents. However, these are only some of the uses of assessment data. Assessment of students and of teaching—formal and informal—provides teachers with the data they need to make the many decisions that are required to plan and conduct their teaching. Assessment data also provide information for communicating about student progress with individual students and with adults, including parents, other teachers, and administrators.

USE MULTIPLE METHODS AND SYSTEMATICALLY GATHER DATA ON STUDENT UNDERSTANDING AND ABILITY. During the ordinary operation of a class, information about students' understanding of science is needed almost continuously. Assessment tasks are not afterthoughts to instructional planning but are built into the design of the teaching. Because assessment information is a powerful tool for monitoring the development of student understanding, modifying activities, and promoting student self-reflection, the effective teacher of science carefully selects and uses assessment tasks that are also good learning experiences. These assessment tasks focus on important content and performance goals and provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and ability to conduct science. Also, teachers use many strategies to gather and interpret the large amount of information about student understanding of science that is present in thoughtful instructional activities.

Classroom assessments can take many forms. Teachers observe and listen to students as they work individually and in groups. They interview students and require formal performance tasks, investigative reports, written reports, pictorial work, models, inventions, and other creative expressions of understanding. They examine portfolios of student work, as well as more traditional paper-and-pencil tests. Each mode of assessment serves particular purposes and particular students. Each has particular strengths and weaknesses and is used to gather different kinds of information about student understanding and ability. The teacher of science chooses the form of the assessment in relationship to the particular learning goals of the class and the experiences of the students.

[See Assessment in Science Education in Chapter 5]

ANALYZE ASSESSMENT DATA TO GUIDE TEACHING. Analysis of student assessment data provides teachers with knowledge to meet the needs of each student. It gives them indicators of each student's current understanding, the nature of each student's thinking, and the origin of what each knows. This knowledge leads to decisions about individual teacher-student interactions, to modifications of learning activities to meet diverse student needs and learning approaches, and

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