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Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards
extend a teacher's influence beyond the classroom, or even the school, by advocating active teacher involvement in the development and interpretation of externally designed assessment used primarily for accountability purposes. Recent reforms in several state-assessment policies and practices in other countries provide models of how a teacher's assessments and participation can become more integral to the external assessments. This topic is discussed in Chapter 4, Chapter 5, and Chapter 6. Teacher involvement at this level is important to consider for many reasons, not the least of which is the centrality of inquiry in the vision of science education advanced in the Standards. Inquiry is difficult to assess in a one-time test. A teacher's position in the classroom allows for personal judgments of one's abilities over an extended investigation that cannot be matched by any feasible external testing procedure.
THE STUDENT'S ROLE
Student participation in the assessment process becomes essential if the Standards are to be actualized for all students. Specifically, self-assessment becomes crucial for feedback to be used effectively. Students are the ones who must ultimately take action to bridge the gap between where they are and where they are heading (Sadler, 1989). Brown (1994) stresses the strategic element of being aware of particular strengths and weaknesses: “Effective learners operate best when they have insight into their own strengths and weaknesses and access to their own repertoires of strategies for learning” (p. 9).
Research shows the potential learning gains from engaging students in peer- and self-assessment strategies (Covington, 1992; Darling-Hammond, Ancess, & Falk, 1995; White & Frederiksen, 1998; Wolf, Bixby, Glen, & Gardner, 1991). In a controlled experiment in two middle school science classrooms, White and Frederiksen (1998) demonstrated increases in student achievement in the class where discussion was structured to promote reflective peer-and self-assessment. The control group participated in general discussions of the curriculum content for the same amount of time but did not show the same increase in student achievement. Traditionally low-attaining students demonstrated the most notable improvement. This last point should not be overlooked. Supporting all students in their quest for high performance in science is an underlying principle of the science education standards. As this research indicates, assessment can be a critical means of reaching the goal.
Although the White and Frederiksen study demonstrates improved performance with regular student self-reflection, involving students in the assessment process