Science Olympiad

This example illustrates the close relationship between teaching and assessment. The assessment tasks are developmentally appropriate for young children, including recognition of students' physical skills and cognitive abilities. The titles in this example (e.g., "Science Content") emphasize some important components of the assessment process. As students move from station to station displaying their understanding and ability in science, members of the community evaluate the students' science achievement and can observe that the students have had the opportunity to learn science. An Olympiad entails extensive planning, and even when the resources are common and readily available, it takes time to design and set up an Olympiad.

[This example highlights some elements of Teaching Standards A, C, and D; Assessment Standards A, B, C, and E; K-4 Content Standards A and B; Program Standards D and F; and System Standards D and G.]

SCIENCE CONTENT: The K-4 Content Standard for Science as Inquiry sets the criterion that students should be able to use simple equipment and tools to gather data. In this assessment exercise, four tasks use common materials to allow students to demonstrate their abilities.

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY: Students make and record observations.

ASSESSMENT TYPE: Performance, public, authentic, individual.

ASSESSMENT PURPOSE: This assessment activity provides the teacher with information about student achievement. That information can be used to assign grades to students and to make promotion decisions. By involving the community, parents, and older siblings in the assessment process, the activity increases the community's understanding of and support for the elementary school science program.

DATA: Student records in science laboratory notebooks

Teachers' observations of students

Community members' observations of students

CONTEXT: Assessment activities of this general form are appropriate as an end-of-the-year activity for grades 1-4. The public performance involves students engaging in inquiry process skills at several stations located in and around the science classroom. Parents, local business persons, community leaders, and faculty from higher education act as judges of student performance. Benefits to the students and to the school and the science program, such as increased parental and community involvement, are well worth the costs of the considerable planning and organization on the part of the teacher. Planning includes 1) selecting appropriate tasks, 2) collecting necessary equipment, 3) making task cards, 4) checking the equipment, 5) obtaining and training judges, and 6) preparing students for public performance.

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