• The ability to reason scientifically.

  • The ability to use science to make personal decisions and to take positions on societal issues.

  • The ability to communicate effectively about science.

[See Content Standards B, C, and D (all grade levels)]

[See the principal Learning science is an active process in Chapter 2]

This assessment standard highlights the complexity of the content standards while addressing the importance of collecting data on all aspects of student science achievement. Educational measurement theory and practice have been well developed primarily to measure student knowledge about subject matter; therefore, many educators and policy analysts have more confidence in instruments designed to measure a student's command of information about science than in instruments designed to measure students' understanding of the natural world or their ability to inquire. Many current science achievement tests measure "inert" knowledge—discrete, isolated bits of knowledge—rather than "active" knowledge—knowledge that is rich and well-structured. Assessment processes that include all outcomes for student achievement must probe the extent and organization of a student's knowledge. Rather than checking whether students have memorized certain items of information, assessments need to probe for students' understanding, reasoning, and the utilization of knowledge. Assessment and learning are so closely related that if all the outcomes are not assessed, teachers and students likely will redefine their expectations for learning science only to the outcomes that are assessed.

OPPORTUNITY-TO-LEARN DATA COLLECTED FOCUS ON THE MOST POWERFUL INDICATORS. The system, program, teaching, and professional development standards portray the conditions that must exist throughout the science education system if all students are to have the opportunity to learn science.

At the classroom level, some of the most powerful indicators of opportunity to learn are teachers' professional knowledge, including content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and understanding of students; the extent to which content, teaching, professional development, and assessment are coordinated; the time available for teachers to teach and students to learn science; the availability of resources for student inquiry; and the quality of educational materials available. The teaching and program standards define in greater detail these and other indicators of opportunity to learn.

Some indicators of opportunity to learn have their origins at the federal, state, and district levels and are discussed in greater detail in the systems standards. Other powerful indicators of opportunity to learn beyond the classroom include per-capita educational expenditures, state science requirements for graduation, and federal allocation of funds to states.

Compelling indicators of opportunity to learn are continually being identified, and ways to collect data about them are being designed. Measuring such indicators presents many technical, theoretical, economic, and social challenges, but those challenges do not obviate the responsibility of moving forward on implementing and assessing opportunity to learn. The assessment standards call for a policy-level commitment of the resources necessary for research and development related to assessing opportunity to learn. That commitment includes the

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