have opportunities to talk with one another about the quality of student work.

  • The essential support for teachers (for example, time and opportunities to work with other teachers) can be created at the school level, but sometimes district and state-level resources are necessary.

  • It is necessary to align assessment in the classroom with externally developed examinations, if the goals of science education are to be consistent and not confuse both teachers and students. At the very least, external examinations must not vitiate the goals of science education that are proffered in the National Science Education Standards (the Standards) (National Research Council [NRC], 1996).

Although this report focuses on classroom assessments, these are not the only types of assessment that occur in the lives of students in school. To many, they are not even the most important ones. Much of the public attention to assessment is linked to the large-scale, standardized examinations that are developed, and usually scored, outside the classroom. These include state- or district-mandated tests, Advanced Placement examinations, the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) and SAT II, the American College Testing Program (ACT), and less frequently, national and international tests, such as National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). These types of assessments occur much less frequently—often once a school year–and usually serve different purposes than the ongoing assessments made on a continuing basis by students and teachers.

Each of these assessments is important—those that occur in daily classroom interactions among teachers and students, those set by teachers at the end of a particular phase in the work, and those developed and administered by external agencies. Together, they serve multiple purposes: to help students learn, to illustrate and articulate the standards for quality work, to inform teaching, to guide curriculum selection, to monitor programs, to provide a basis for reporting concrete accomplishments to interested parties, for accountability, among others. No one assessment serves or can serve all the possible or desired aims of gauging students ' knowledge and abilities, understanding the nature of their thinking, and supporting their learning.

This report was conceived as an addendum to the Standards (NRC, 1996). In December 1995, the Standards were released as the result of an effort that began in 1991. At that time, the President of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and leaders from several other groups approached the Chairman of the

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