Specifications of the number of students or schools from which data will be obtained. Descriptions of the decisions to be made, including who will make the decisions and by what procedures. Conducting assessments is a resource-intensive activity. Routine assessments in the classroom place considerable demands on the time and intellectual resources of teachers and students. Large-scale assessments, such as those conducted by districts, states, and the federal government, require tremendous human and fiscal expenditures.
Such resources should be expended only with the assurance that the decisions and actions that follow will increase the scientific literacy of the students—an assurance that can be made only if the purpose of the assessment is clear. Assessments test assumptions about relationships among educational variables. For example, if the purpose is to decide if a school district's management system should be continued, assessment data might be collected about student achievement.
This choice of assessment would be based on the following assumed relationship: the management system gives teachers responsibility for selecting the science programs, teachers have an incentive to implement effectively the programs they select, and effective implementation improves science achievement. The relationship between the decision to be made and the data to be collected is specified. For an assessment to be internally consistent, each component must be consistent with all others.
A link of inferences must be established and reasonable alternative explanations eliminated. For example, in the district management example above, the relationship between the management system and student achievement is not adequately tested if student achievement is the only variable measured. The extent to which the management system increased teacher responsibility and led to changes in the science programs that could influence science achievement must also be measured.
Achievement and opportunity to learn science must be assessed. Achievement data collected focus on the science content that is most important for students to learn.
Equal attention must be given to the assessment of opportunity to learn and to the assessment of student achievement. The content standards define the science all students will come to understand. They portray the outcomes of science education as rich and varied, encompassing. Knowing and understanding scientific facts, concepts, principles, laws, and theories. Titles in this example emphasize some of the components of the assessment process. In the vision of science education described in the Standards, teaching often cannot be distinguished from assessment.
In this example, Ms. She has a repertoire of analogies, questions, and examples that she has developed and uses when needed. The students develop answers to questions about an analogy using written and diagrammatic representations. The administrator recognizes that teachers make plans but adapt them and provided Ms. One of the supporting ideas is that the motion of an object can be described by the change in its position with time. One student, describing his idea about motion and forces, points to a book on the desk and says "right now the book is not moving.
The book is on the desk, the desk is on the floor, the floor is a part of the building, the building is sitting on the Earth, the Earth is rotating on its axis and revolving around the Sun, and the whole solar system is moving through the Milky Way.
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All discussion ceases. Imagine an insect and a spider on a lily pad floating down a stream. The spider is walking around the edge of lily pad. The insect is sitting in the middle of the pad watching the spider. How would the insect describe its own motion? How would the insect describe the spider's motion? How would a bird sitting on the edge of the stream describe the motion of the insect and the spider?
After setting the class to work discussing the questions, the teacher walks around the room listening to the discussions. The school principal had been observing Ms. So Ms. Her questions were designed to help the students realize that motion is described in terms of some point of reference. The insect in the middle of lily pad would describe its motion and the motion of the spider in terms of its reference frame, the lily pad. In contrast, the bird watching from the edge of the stream would describe the motion of the lily pad and its passengers in terms of its reference frame, namely the ground on which it was standing.
Someone on the ground observing the bird would say that the bird was not in motion, but an observer on the moon would have a different answer. The ability to use science to make personal decisions and to take positions on societal issues. 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.
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. Students cannot be held accountable for achievement unless they are given adequate opportunity to learn science.
Therefore, achievement and opportunity to learn science must be assessed equally. The technical quality of the data collected is well matched to the decisions and actions taken on the basis of their interpretation. An individual student's performance is similar on two or more tasks that claim to measure the same aspect of student achievement. Assessment tasks and methods of presenting them provide data that are sufficiently stable to lead to the same decisions if used at different times.
Standard C addresses the degree to which the data collected warrant the decisions and actions that will be based on them. The quality of the decisions and the appropriateness of resulting action are limited by the quality of the data. The more serious the consequences for students or teachers, the greater confidence those making the decisions must have in the technical quality of the data.
Confidence is gauged by the quality of the assessment process and the consistency of the measurement over alternative assessment processes. Judgments about confidence are based on several different indicators, some of which are discussed below. The content and form of an assessment task must be congruent with what is supposed to be measured. This is "validity. Requiring students to pose questions and design inquiries to address them would be an appropriate task.
However, if the purpose of. When students are engaged in assessment tasks that are similar in form to tasks in which they will engage in their lives outside the classroom or are similar to the activities of scientists, great confidence can be attached to the data collected. Such assessment tasks are authentic. Classroom assessments can take many forms, including observations of student performance during instructional activities; interviews; formal performance tasks; portfolios; investigative projects; written reports; and multiple choice, short-answer, and essay examinations.
The relationship of some of those forms of assessment tasks to the goals of science education are not as obvious as others. For instance, a student's ability to obtain and evaluate scientific information might be measured using a short-answer test to identify the sources of high-quality scientific information about toxic waste. An alternative and more authentic method is to ask the student to locate such information and develop an annotated bibliography and a judgment about the scientific quality of the information.
This is one aspect of reliability. Suppose that the purpose of an assessment is to measure a student's ability to pose appropriate questions. A student might be asked to pose questions in a situation set in the physical sciences. The student's performance and the task are consistent if the performance is the same when the task is set in the context of the life sciences, assuming the student has had equal opportunities to learn physical and life sciences. For decision makers to have confidence in assessment data, they need assurance that students have had the opportunity to demonstrate their full understanding and ability.
Assessment tasks must be developmentally appropriate, must be set in contexts that are familiar to the students, must not require reading skills or vocabulary that are inappropriate to the students' grade level, and must be as free from bias as possible. This is another aspect of reliability, and is especially important for large-scale assessments, where changes in performance of groups is of interest.
Only with stable measures can valid inferences about changes in group performance be made. Although the confidence indicators discussed above focus on student achievement data, an analogous set of confidence indicators can be generated for opportunity to learn. For instance, teacher quality is an indicator of opportunity to.
Authenticity is obtained if teacher quality is measured by systematic observation of teaching performance by qualified observers. Confidence in the measure is. Consistency of performance is also established through repeated observations. Data-collection methods can take many forms. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The choice among them is usually. The choice of assessment form should be consistent with what one wants to measure and to infer. However, to serve the intended purpose, the choice of assessment form should be consistent with what one wants to measure and to infer.
It is critical that the data and their method of collection yield information with confidence levels consistent with the consequences of its use. Public confidence in educational data and their use is related to technical quality. This public confidence is influenced by the extent to which technical quality has been considered by educators and policy makers and the skill with which they communicate with the public about it. Assessment tasks must be reviewed for the use of stereotypes, for assumptions that reflect the perspectives or experiences of a particular group, for language that might be offensive to a particular group, and for other features that might distract students from the intended task.
Large-scale assessments must use statistical techniques to identify potential bias among subgroups. Assessment tasks must be appropriately modified to accommodate the needs of students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or limited English proficiency. Assessment tasks must be set in a variety of contexts, be engaging to students with different interests and experiences, and must not assume the perspective or experience of a particular gender, racial, or ethnic group. A premise of the National Science Education Standards is that all students should have access to quality science education and should be expected to achieve scientific literacy as defined by the content standards.
It follows that the processes used to assess student achievement must be fair to all students. This is not only an ethical requirement but also a measurement requirement. If assessment results are more closely related to gender or ethnicity than to the preparation received or the science understanding and ability being assessed, the validity of the assessment process is questionable.
Those who plan and implement science assessments must pay deliberate attention to issues of fairness. The concern for fairness is reflected in the procedures used to develop assessment tasks, in the content and language of the assessment tasks, in the processes by which students are assessed, and in the analyses of assessment results. Statistical techniques require that both sexes and different racial and ethnic backgrounds be included in the development of large-scale assessments. Bias can be determined with some certainty through the combination of statistical evidence and expert judgment.
For instance, if an exercise to assess understanding of inertia using a flywheel results in differential performance between females and males, a judgment that the exercise is biased might be plausible based on the assumption that males and females have different experiences with flywheels. Whether assessments are large scale or teacher conducted, the principle of fairness requires that data-collection methods allow students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, or limited English proficiency to demonstrate the full extent of their science knowledge and skills. The requirement that assessment exercises be authentic and thus in context increases the likelihood that all tasks have some degree of bias for some population of students.
Some contexts will have more appeal to males and others to females. If, however, assessments employ a variety of tasks, the collection will be "equally unfair" to all. This is one way in which the deleterious effects of bias can be avoided. The inferences made from assessments about student achievement and opportunity to learn must be sound. When making inferences from assessment data about student achievement and opportunity to learn science, explicit reference needs to be made to the assumptions on which the inferences are based.
Even when assessments are well planned and the quality of the resulting data high, the interpretations of the empirical evidence can result in quite different conclusions. Making inferences involves looking at empirical data through the lenses of theory, personal beliefs, and personal experience. Making objective inferences is extremely difficult, partly because individuals are not always aware of their assumptions. Consequently, confidence in the validity of inferences requires explicit reference to the assumptions on which those inferences are based. For example, if the science achievement on a large-scale assessment of a sample of students from a certain population is high, several conclusions are possible.
Little confidence can be placed in any of these conclusions without clear statements about the assumptions and a developed line of reasoning from the evidence to the conclusion. The level of confidence in conclusions is raised when those conducting assessments have been well trained in the process of making inferences from educational assessment data. Even then, the general public, as well as professionals, should demand open and understandable descriptions of how the inferences were made.
Teachers are in the best position to put assessment data to powerful use. In the vision of science education described by the Standards, teachers use the assessment data in many ways. Some of the ways teachers might use these data are presented in this section. Teachers collect information about students' understanding almost continuously and make adjustments to their teaching on the basis of their interpretation of that information. They observe critical incidents in the classroom, formulate hypotheses about the causes of those incidents, question students to test their hypotheses, interpret student's responses, and adjust their teaching plans.
Teachers use assessment data to plan curricula. Some data teachers have collected themselves; other data come from external sources. The data are used to select content, activities, and examples that will be incorporated into a course of study, a module, a unit, or a lesson. Teachers use the assessment data to make judgments about. The understanding and abilities students must have to benefit from the selected activities and examples. Planning for assessment is integral to instruction. Assessments embedded in the curriculum serve at least three purposes: to determine the students' initial understandings and abilities, to monitor student progress, and to collect information to grade student achievement.
Assessment tasks used for those purposes reflect what students are expected to learn; elicit the full extent of students' understanding; are set in a variety of contexts; have practical, aesthetic, and heuristic value; and have meaning outside the classroom. Students need the opportunity to evaluate and reflect on their own scientific understanding and ability. Before students can do this, they need to understand the goals for learning science.
The ability to self-assess understanding is an essential tool for self-directed learning. Through self-reflection, students clarify ideas of what they are supposed to learn. When teachers treat students as serious learners and serve as coaches rather than judges, students come to understand and apply standards of good scientific practice.
Developing self-assessment skills is an ongoing process throughout a student's school career, becoming increasingly more sophisticated and self-initiated as a student progresses. Conversations among a teacher and students about assessment tasks and the teacher's evaluation of performance provide students with necessary information to assess their own work. In concert with opportunities to apply it to individual work and to the work of peers, that information contributes to the development of students' self-assessment skills.
By developing these skills, students become able to take responsibility for their own learning. Teachers have communicated their assessment practices, their standards for performance, and criteria for evaluation to students when students are able to. Select a piece of their own work to provide evidence of understanding of a scientific concept, principle, or law—or their ability to conduct scientific inquiry. Explain orally, in writing, or through illustration how a work sample provides evidence of understanding.
Critique a sample of their own work using the teacher's standards and criteria for quality. Involving students in the assessment process increases the responsibilities of the teacher. Teachers of science are the representatives of the scientific community in their classrooms; they represent a culture and a way of thinking that might be quite unfamiliar to students. As representatives, teachers are expected to model reflection, fostering a learning environment where students review each others' work, offer suggestions, and challenge mistakes in investigative processes, faulty reasoning, or poorly supported conclusions.
A teacher's formal and informal evaluations of student work should exemplify scientific practice in making judgments. The standards for judging the significance, soundness, and creativity of work in professional scientific work are complex, but they are not arbitrary. In the work of classroom learning and investigation, teachers represent the standards of practice of the scientific community. An essential responsibility of teachers is to report on student progress and achievement. Progress reports provide information about.
A student's progress from marking period to marking period and form year to year. Each of these issues requires a different kind of information and a different mode of assessment. Especially challenging for teachers is communicating to parents and policy makers the new methods of gathering information that are gaining acceptance in schools. Parents and policy makers need to be reassured that the newer methods are not only as good as, but better than, those used when they were in school. Thus, in developing plans for assessment strategies to compile evidence of student achievement, teachers demonstrate that alternative forms of data collection and methods of interpreting them are as valid and reliable as the familiar short-answer test.
The purported objectivity of short-answer tests is so highly valued that newer modes of assessment such as portfolios, performances, and essays that rely on apparently more subjective scoring methods are less trusted by people who are not professional educators. Overcoming this lack of trust requires that teachers use assessment plans for monitoring student progress and for grading. Clearly relating assessment tasks and products of student work to the valued goals of science education is integral to assessment plans. Equally important is that the plans have explicit criteria for judging the quality of students' work that policy makers and parents can understand.
Master teachers engage in practical inquiry of their own teaching to identify conditions that promote student learning and to understand why certain practices are effective. The teacher as a researcher engages in assessment activities that are similar to scientific inquiries when collecting data to answer questions about effective teaching practices. Engaging in classroom research means that teachers develop assessment plans that involve collecting data about students' opportunities to learn as well as their achievement.
Science assessments conducted by district, state, and national authorities serve similar purposes and are distinguished primarily by scale—that is, by the number of students, teachers, or schools on which data are collected. Assessments may be conducted by authorities external to the classroom for the purposes of. In addition to those purposes, assessments are conducted by school districts to make judgments about the effectiveness of specific programs, schools, and teachers and to report to taxpayers on the district's accomplishments.
The high cost of external assessments and their influence on science teaching practices demand careful planning and implementation. Well-planned, large-scale assessments include teachers during planning and implementation. In addition, all data collected are analyzed, sample sizes are well rationalized, and the sample is representative of the population of interest.
This section discusses the characteristics of large-scale assessments. Far too often, more educational data are collected than are analyzed or used to make decisions or take action. Large-scale assessment planners should be able to describe how the data they plan to collect will be used to improve science education. The development and interpretation of externally designed assessments for monitoring the educational system should include the active participation of teachers.
Teachers' experiences with students make them indispensable participants in the design, development, and interpretation of assessments prepared beyond the classroom. Their involvement helps to ensure congruence of the classroom practice of science education and external assessment practices. Whether at the district, state, or national level, teachers of science need to work with others who make contributions to the assessment process, such as educational researchers, educational measurement specialists, curriculum specialists, and educational policy analysts.
The size of the sample on which data are collected depends on the purpose of the assessment and the number of students, teachers, schools, districts, or states that the assessment plan addresses. If, for instance, a state conducts an assessment to learn about student science achievement in comparison with students in another state, it is sufficient to obtain data from a scientifically defined sample of the students in the state.
If, however, the purpose of the assessment is to give state-level credit to individual students for science courses, then data must be collected for every student. For all large-scale assessments, even those at the district level, the information should be collected in ways that minimize the time demands on individual students. For many accountability purposes, a sampling design can be employed that has different representative samples of students receiving different sets of tasks.
This permits many different dimensions of the science education system to be monitored. Policy makers and taxpayers can make valid inferences about student achievement and opportunity to learn across the nation, state, or district without requiring extensive time commitments from every student in the sample. To illustrate the assessment standards, two examples are provided below. The content standards are stated in terms of understandings and abilities; therefore, the first example is about understanding the natural world.
This example requires a body of scientific knowledge and the competence to reason with that information to make predictions, to develop explanations, and to act in scientifically rational ways. The example focuses on predictions and justifying those predictions. The second example is about the ability to inquire, which also requires a body of scientific information and the competence to reason with it to conceptualize, plan, and perform investigations. These assessment tasks and the content standards do not have a one-to-one correspondence.
The content standards call for scientific understanding of the natural world. Such understanding requires knowing concepts, principles, laws, and theories of the physical, life, and earth sciences, as well as ideas that are common across the natural sciences.
That understanding includes the capacity to reason with knowledge. Discerning what a student knows or how the student reasons is not possible without communication, either verbal or representational, a third essential component of understanding. Inferences about students' understanding can be based on the analysis of their performances in the science classroom and their work products.
Types of performances include making class or public presentations, discussing science matters with peers or teachers, and conducting laboratory work. Products of student work include examina. All categories Issue only Article only. Entire Range of Publication Dates. Publication Dates Between. Most Relevant First. Most Recently Published First. Download PDF free. Anthony Mitchell. Look inside Download PDF free.
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Day, Abby. Oxford University Press. ISBN Oxford: Oxford University Press. How to Get Research Published in Journals. Aldershot UK: Gower now Routledge. Day, Abby , ed. Farnham: Ashgate. Anthropology of Ministry. Textbooks for teaching the sociology of religion. Religion, 49 2 , pp. ISSN X. Religion and Society: Advances in Research, 7, pp.