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Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning
This chapter has demonstrated that assessment for inquiry-based science education differs from more familiar, traditional assessments for a number of reasons: the nature of inquiry, the goals of inquiry-based instruction, the alignment of inquiry with the Standards, and the capacity of a particular assessment to measure actual progress toward the Standards.
These differences in assessment extend both to formative assessments done to guide learning and to summative assessments designed to measure learning, including large-scale (district-wide, state, national, or international) assessments. Summative assessments also must meet a number of additional criteria: they should be systematic, replicable, reliable, equitable for all students, comparable across classes and schools, and interpretable. By meeting these criteria, summative assessments can provide evidence needed to make fair high-stakes decisions — whether about an individual student’s grades or a system’s need to redesign professional development approaches for its teachers.