Category Archives: Assessment

Michigan Sample Science Assessment Items

Are you looking for more samples of 2 Dimensional and 3 Dimensional summative assessment items for NGSS? Well, Michigan just recently released online samples of NGSS science assessment items for grades 5, 8, and 11.

Check out the portal HERE. Click on the grade you want and then follow the login instructions. Enjoy!

(WA Only) NGSS Assessment Supports December 2017

Hi all,

If you are a science assessment nerd like me then you’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of several documents to support the new NGSS Science Assessment in WA State or the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS).

We recently got the following items from the science team at OSPI:

A. Online sample items at grades 5, 8, and 11

B. The first set of WCAS Test & Item Specs…more will be arriving in the coming year

Grade 5 Test Design and Item Specifications

Grade 8 Test Design and Item Specifications

High School Test Design and Item Specifications

C. Webinars to support each of these items are also available- see below:

Register for the “How to Work with the WCAS Training Tests” Webinar on January 10

Register for the “Science Test and Item Specifications Release” Webinar on January 24

Click HERE to see the updated science assessment page at OSPI.

NGSS Assessment Task 3D Rating Sheet

To piggyback on my last post about the impact of simple things such as NGSS Cheat Sheets– here is a simple document I created for rating the “3Dness” of assessment tasks. I often use this document with the ACESSE PD Module B on Building Assessment Tasks That Work (if you are not familiar with this PD module you should check it out).

The modification I make to the module is the following. I break the analysis of the task set into a couple of steps.

A. Participants analyze the set of assessment tasks with (blue, orange, & green) highlighters and highlight words and text features that connect with SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs.

B. Then  participants use the 3D Rating Sheet to go through the tasks and score each item for evidence (or lack of evidence) for the given SEP, CCC, and DCI in the assigned PE. This really helps cue participants to parts of assessment tasks and how often the SEPs and CCCs are lacking or missing in most traditional science assessment tasks.

Click HERE to download the 3D Rating Sheet.


Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom

seeing students learn scienceOVERVIEW: Seeing Students Learn Science is a new FREE document from The National Academies Press. This publication in meant to help us improve our understanding of how students actually learn science and to provide guidance as we modify and adapt our instruction and assessment practices.

The document contains 6 sections:

  1. Front Matter
  2. What’s Really Different?
  3. What Does This Kind of Assessment Look Like?
  4. What Can I Learn from My Students’ Work?
  5. Building New Kinds of Assessments into the Flow of Your Instruction
  6. You and Your School, District, and State

You can read the document FREE in your browser or download the pdf. Enjoy!

PURPOSE: Provide support to educational systems as we continue to implement the vision of A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards

AUDIENCE: Teachers, administrators, PD providers, assessment developers, etc



Next Generation Science Assessment Tasks: Bethel School District

OVERVIEW: Tom HathornK-12 Science Specialist for the Bethel School District in Washington State, has worked with his science team to create a spectacular set of grade 6-12 science formative assessment tasks for understanding the Next Generation Science Standards. These assessments are designed to be “objects of study” as we all continue to learn about 2 Dimensional and 3 Dimensional assessment. The assessment tasks meet the following criteria:

  • Items are based on a stimulus with an anchoring phenomena
  • Each item assesses at least 2 of the 3 Dimensions of NGSS
  • Tasks are based on bundles of NGSS performance expectations
  • Individual items are connected to specific evidence statements

There are currently 17 assessment tasks and I can just about guarantee that any grade 6-12 teacher of science will find at least one task that matches NGSS Performance Expectations in your course/grade. You will find tasks targeting life science, physical science, Earth/Space science and Engineering Design.

PURPOSE: These NGSS assessment tasks are intended to be used as professional learning objects so that we can all move forward in our understanding of how 3 Dimensional Assessment will be different than typical classroom assessments. In Bethel, they have created modified lessons and units that match these assessment tasks. Here is how Tom describes the use of these assessment tasks with his teachers:

Purpose & Expectations:  Become More Proficient at 3-D Learning & Assessment

  • Primary Purpose:  These lessons and assessments afford teachers the chance to understand, implement, and discuss “3-dimensional” lessons and assessments.
  • All teachers should:
    • Use the NGSS lesson modifications.
    • Give the NGSS assessment.
    • Use the assessment as fodder for student-student conversation.
    • Discuss their lesson observations & student work with colleagues.
  • The results will be used to “optimize” the lesson plans.

AUDIENCE: K-12 teachers of science, district leaders, Curriculum and Assessment Directors, PD providers, pre-service teachers, building administrators, parents, others

LINK: Tom has built a shared Google Folder at the link HERE. You will find several supporting documents. You will want to go to the folder titled Bethel NGSAs- For 3D Planning… Inside this folder you will find labeled folders with documents for each of the assessment tasks. Each folder contains the Stimulus and the Items as separate documents. There is purposefully No Answer Key or Rubric for these.

Here is a note from Tom on the use of these assessments:

About these NGSAs (Next Generation Science Assessments)

You’ll see presentation materials as well as the assessments themselves.

Caveat – These represent our first efforts…we’re getting better at it:

We are learning a lot about 3D assessment and instruction (happily…that’s the point).  A few lessons-learned:

  • Doing the NGSAs, studying the evidence statements, and tweaking the items is very good learning for teachers.
  • The new Task Formats document is a great tool for assessment & instructional tasks; the slides from AIR’s presentation about item types is also very helpful to teachers who want to do NGSA work.
  • In our 2nd round of NGSA work I left more room for improving the items/cluster, which engaged the teachers in considering the different selected-response item types.  With one group I wrote all items as constructed-response, then had them decide which ones to revise into selected-response…this seemed to work very well.
  • These NGSAs are time-consuming, and so we’re getting better at using selected-response items and writing fewer items that target important-but-not-every evidence statement.
  • Teachers are using the NGSAs in alternate ways, not always single-sitting (choosing only some items, using as homework, spreading them out over time).
  • We are emphasizing that these are intended as formative assessments, so consider which items to discuss, and what kind of discourse to use (see Page Keeley’s Formative Assessment in Science vol.1 & vol.2, which have been revised to focus on NGSS Practices & Crosscutting Concepts).  These student conversations are nice opportunities to engage students in the 3 dimensions.
  • Engaging administrators with a few items from NGSAs has helped them to understand NGSS, what’s reasonable (or not) to expect from teachers at this point, and how to support teachers & teacher leaders.



Tom Hathorn

K-12 Science Specialist

Bethel School District

WA STATE ONLY: High School Next Generation Science Field Test

Hi all- Below is a copy of an official bulletin from OSPI regarding an opportunity for WA State High Schools to apply to participate in a pilot of the upcoming HS NGSS Science Assessment.

Teachers, schools, and districts will soon need to make an important decision about participating in the field test that will support development of a high school assessment of the Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (Next Generation Science Standards). The field test will be administered as a separate online assessment for high school students and can be taken during a single 50-minute class period.

An application in the Washington Assessment Management System (WAMS) will open December 1, 2016 so that the District Test Coordinator for each district can indicate which schools, and the approximate number of teachers and students that will participate. The registration window closes January 31, 2017.

Purpose: The Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (Next Generation Science Standards) will be assessed for the first time in spring 2018. Before test forms can be constructed, newly developed test items must be field tested to ensure that the items are accessible to all students and that they produce results that are valid, reliable, and fair. These new, online field test items can be embedded in the online Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) in grades 5 and 8, but the paper-pencil Biology End-of-Course exam does not provide that same opportunity for the new high school items. This separate online field test for high school will ensure that the statistics used to construct future high school test forms are as accurate as possible.

No scores or reports: The number of items a student will see on the field test is much smaller than the total number of items that will be on the full assessment delivered in spring 2018. The cut scores for the full assessment will not be established until summer 2018. This means that no individual student scores will be generated from the field test. Without individual scores there will be no school, district, or state scores. Schools need to understand that the field test is not a preview of how well their students will do on the operational tests in 2018, but rather a way to help OSPI make sure the operational tests in 2018 and beyond are fair, valid, and reliable.

Participation: Students in Grade 11 are the target population for this field test. If the test is administered to an entire class, and some students in Grade 10 or Grade 12 are also in the class, those students are also able to participate. Students in Grade 9 are not able to participate in this field test. Students may participate regardless of science courses taken and do not need to be currently enrolled in a science course.

Test Format and Administration Time: The high school field test will be delivered online, using the same testing platform as the Smarter Balanced Assessments (the AIR Test Administration Interface and the WA Secure Browser). There will be selected response, technology enhanced, and constructed response items; most items will be associated with one or more stimuli. Most item formats are similar to those students have seen in the Smarter Balanced assessments so we anticipate that students will navigate the online functionality well. Students will see only a small number of items which should be completed within one 50-minute class period. The field test is a secure state assessment, so all OSPI test security protocols and training must be followed.

Testing Window: The testing window for the field test is May 1 to June 15, 2017. The field test will be administered during one day of that window, and within one class period for each student participating.

District Test Coordinators message: The information in this message was distributed to District Test Coordinators (DCs) via the Washington Assessment Weekly newsletter on November 14, 2016. That message also included directions for how to register schools for the field test, and information about which Designated Supports and Accommodations will be available during the field test.

Teacher Volunteers: While registration will be done “by school,” that does not mean that an entire school or grade level must participate. An individual teacher can give this field test to one class of students, or to multiple classes; or a group of teachers at a school can each test one class or multiple classes. The teachers and classes of students are not limited to science classes—students in any subject can participate. We hope that this flexibility will increase the number of students that are able to participate. Teachers interested in participating in this field test should contact their District Test Coordinator (DC) before January 31, 2017 and let them know of their willingness to participate. DCs are the only staff that can register a school for the field test.

Elementary and middle schools are not included in the registration options because participation in the online Science MSP includes the field test items embedded in the Spring MSP test.

Questions: Please direct any questions to the Science Assessment team at

Integrating Crosscutting Concepts into 3D Science Assessment Tasks

OVERVIEW: Design Based Implementation Research (DBIR) recently posted a tool for intentionally integrating the seven Crosscutting Concepts of NGSS into 3 Dimensional Assessment Tasks. The tool provides possible prompts and questions for uncovering student understanding of each specific Crosscutting Concept.

AUDIENCE: K-12 teachers of science, curriculum directors, PD providers, curriculum writers, assessment writers, etc.

PURPOSE: Provide specific questions and prompts for uncovering student understanding of the seven Crosscutting Concepts. If you’ve been working on developing 3D assessments and tasks you’ve probably seen that the Crosscutting Concepts tend to be subtle or in the background in typical assessment items. These prompts and questions zoom in on a given Crosscutting Concept and pull them into the foreground for assessment and instructional purposes. This document is a great companion piece to the Integrating Science Practices into Assessment Tasks Tool.

Here is an example for Patterns.

Ask after presenting students with observational data as part of the scenario:

What patterns do you observe in the data presented above in the [table, chart, graph, model output]?