Category Archives: Assessment

WA State: Science Assessment Update March 2015

Hi all,

OSPI just sent out an email announcement regarding Science Assessment so I wanted to push out the information here as well. The text below is copied directly from the email.

A couple of items to note:

a. The online Science Training Test for the Grade 5 and Grade 8 Science MSP is up and ready for use. This year there is a different test engine/platform so you will want to check it out.

b. The first state assessments (testing the Next Generation Science Standards) are expected no sooner than the spring of 2018.

Questions regarding the information below can be directed to

Science Training Test for the Online Measurements of Student Progress (MSP)

The Science Training Test for the Grade 5 and the Grade 8 MSP is now available on the Washington State Comprehensive Assessment Program (WCAP) Portal.  The WCAP portal is the access point for the Washington assessment system tools and resources.

The 2015 spring online Science MSP will use the same test engine/platform as the Smarter Balanced Assessments for ELA and Mathematics. There are several features on the test engine that will be different from prior versions of the online science tests:

  • There are no “click to enlarge” graphics, or bulleted lists in items.
  • Short answer items will not appear over multiple screens.
  • Items for a scenario will appear together on the right side of the screen, just like the ELA passages and items appear together on the Smarter Balanced test. 

Science Assessment Resources

Please visit the Science Assessment Educator Resources webpage to access a variety of documents intended to assist teachers, students, and parents in preparation for the Science MSP and Biology End-of-Course (EOC).

 Examples of resources include:

  • Science Short-Answer Scoring Trainings
    Video presentations showing how student responses are scored using rubrics for the Biology EOC/COE and Science MSP.
  • Science Assessment Updates
    These documents include: information about the science assessment system; sample items to familiarize teachers and students with the item types on the assessments; and scoring information for educators.
  • Lessons Learned from Scoring Student Work
    The Science Assessment Team shares observations about student responses for the Measurements of Student Progress and the Biology End-of-Course exam pilot items.
  • Science Short-Answer Item Templates
    Templates that can be edited for use in classroom practice by incorporating content from any unit in a science curriculum.

Science Assessment Development Update

WA State 2009 K-12 Science Learning Standards

Invitations to apply for summer Pilot Rangefinding and fall Data Review committees will be sent via GovDelivery in May. Information will be posted on the Science Assessment Professional Development Opportunities webpage.

WA State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (NGSS)

Washington has joined a collaborative group of 13 states and 1 territory to begin the development of assessments based on the Next Generation Science Standards (known in Washington as the Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards). The group work is being coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). This group met for the first time in February. We will keep you posted about the progress of the collaborative, and if there are opportunities for educator reviews of documents during the development stages we will be sure to let you know.

The first state assessments for the new standards are expected no earlier than spring 2018.

NGSS High School Evidence Statements Released

The High School evidence statements for the performance expectations in the Next Generation Science Standards have just been released. These evidence statements provide more clarity about what students should know and be able to do in order to clearly meet the 3 dimensional expectations of the NGSS.

I’ve only given the document a quick skim but I feel like this will be VERY helpful in my work supporting teachers in implementing the NGSS… looking forward to the Middle School and Elementary sets.

Click HERE to download the HS evidence statements.

Washington State to Collaborate on NGSS Assessment Development

I’ve been waiting anxiously to hear whether Washington State would be developing our own NGSS state-wide assessments or if we would partner with others states. Today the word came out that Washington will in fact be working as part of a collaborative group. Below is text from the official announcement from OSPI.

Beginning of development for 2013 (NGSS) Standards

We are happy to announce that Washington has joined a collaborative group of states to begin the development of assessments based on the Next Generation Science Standards (known in Washington as the Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards). The group work is being coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The first step of the collaboration is to develop item specifications based on the Standards.

Dawn Cope and Cinda Parton will be attending the group meetings this winter and spring. We will keep you posted about the progress, and if there are opportunities for educator reviews of the documents during the development stages we will make sure to let you know.

The first state-wide assessments of these new standards are expected to be administered in spring 2017 or spring 2018

NGSS Classroom Sample Assessment Tasks grades 6-12

Achieve has been promising a set of NGSS/CCSS Classroom Assessment Tasks for quite some time… and the first batch has finally arrived! There are currently middle school and high school assessment tasks with elementary on the way.

Click HERE to access the Front Matter for the assessment tasks.

Click HERE to access the assessment tasks as either pdf or Microsoft Word docs.

There are currently 4 middle school sample tasks and 5 high school sample tasks. I’m interested to hear how everyone plans on using these sample tasks.


Recorded Webinar on NGSS Assessment Design

Click HERE to access the July 15, 2014 NASBE webinar titled: Designing and Aligning Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards. This webinar will give you a sense of what an upcoming assessment system of the NGSS may be like. The webinar is also a useful introduction to the FREE report-  Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards.


Developing the Next Generation of Assessments for NGSS

It sounds like the design of the assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards is in good hands.  The University of Illinois at Chicago, Michigan State University, SRI International, and the Concord Consortium have been awarded a grant to develop new science assessments for NGSS. It sounds like these assessments will have a strong classroom component and should be groundbreaking in their design. Click here to read more.

Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards

The National Academies Press released a report titled: Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards. The report is free to download (See links at bottom of this post) Below is some text from the official Press Release…

Date:  Dec. 17, 2013


New System of Assessments Needed When Next Generation Science Standards Are Implemented, Report Says

WASHINGTON – New types of assessments will be needed to measure student learning once the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are implemented, says a new report from the National Research Council.  The tests that states currently use emphasize factual knowledge and were not designed to assess the type of understanding envisioned by the standards, which emphasize depth of knowledge based on the ability to integrate core content with science and engineering practices.

The report describes a new system of assessments that should be developed, and it offers examples of the types of tasks and questions that could assess student knowledge as detailed in the standards.  To monitor progress in meeting the standards, states should use information both from state-administered tests and from classroom-based assessments, as well as information about students’ opportunity to learn in the ways laid out in the science standards, said the committee that wrote the report.

“The Next Generation Science Standards present challenges for assessment, but they are also an opportunity to address longstanding limitations with current approaches,” said committee co-chair James Pellegrino, Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor and Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  “Current assessments tend to ask students to define the scientific method absent specific content; assessments under NGSS should ask students to demonstrate that they understand aspects of scientific reasoning by applying particular science practices, such as designing a study or interpreting the meaning of a data set, to questions about genetic inheritance, for example.”

The Next Generation Science Standards, which have been adopted by eight states so far, describe “performance expectations” that articulate what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.  The standards support science learning structured around three dimensions: scientific and engineering practices; core ideas of the science and engineering disciplines; and crosscutting concepts, such as “cause and effect” and “energy and matter.”  In classroom teaching and learning, these three dimensions should be integrated: for example, the students should always learn by engaging in one or more scientific practices in the context of core ideas, and their advancement should be mapped out in terms of a learning progression.

To assess students’ mastery and integration of these three dimensions, a variety of question formats will be needed, the report says.  Questions may require students to supply an answer, produce a product, or perform an activity.  “Formative” assessments would help teachers see how students are progressing and make instructional decisions; and “monitoring assessments” would measure science learning on a broader scale.

For the monitoring tests, the full breadth and depth of NGSS expectations for a given grade level cannot be covered with a single large-scale test, the report says.  The committee recommended that the information from external “on-demand” assessments (that is, assessments that are administered at a time mandated by the state) should be supplemented with information gathered from classroom-embedded assessments (that is, assessments that are administered at a time determined by the district or school that fits the instructional sequence in the classroom) to fully assess whether performance expectations have been met.

These classroom-embedded assessments could take various forms.  For example, they might be self-contained curricular units that include both instructional materials and assessments, provided by the state or district to be administered in classrooms.  Or the state or district could develop banks of tasks that schools and teachers would use at the appropriate time in classrooms.

Assessments should be developed using a “bottom up” rather than a “top down” approach, the report says.  The learning progression should begin with designing instruction and assessments for the classroom, perhaps integrated into instructional units, and then move toward assessment that meets the needs for monitoring purposes, including accountability.

In addition to using assessments to monitor students’ progress, states should monitor indicators of “opportunity to learn” – the extent to which students have the opportunity to learn science in the way called for in the standards and the extent to which schools have the resources they need to support learning (e.g., teacher subject-area knowledge, adequate time, and appropriate materials to devote to science instruction).

“It will take time to implement the new system of assessments, just as it will take time to implement the teaching approaches needed for students to learn science in the way NGSS envisions,” said committee co-chair Mark Wilson,professor of policy, organization, measurement, and evaluation and of cognition and development in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley.  “States should develop and implement the new assessments gradually, starting with what is necessary and possible in the short term while establishing long-term goals for reaching a fully integrated system of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.”

Read the Press Release HERE.

Download the Report Brief HERE.

Download the Full Report HERE.