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AAAS's Project 2061 Answers Need
for High-Quality K-12 Assessment
Through its Benchmarks for Science Literacy and other resources, Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has influenced the way states across the country develop and use K-12 science content standards. Now Project 2061, AAAS's education reform initiative, is working to ensure that assessment is meaningfully tied to those standards.
With funding from the National Science Foundation's Instructional Materials Development (IMD) Assessment Program, Project 2061 has begun a five-year, $4.1 million project to develop a collection of high-quality middle- and early high-school science and mathematics assessment items-including multiple choice and open-response questions. The resulting bank of some 400 items will be electronically linked to state and national science content standards and accessible online.
"We absolutely must have better tools for finding out if students are learning what we expect them to learn. Currently, there simply aren't enough high-quality test items linked to content standards," said George DeBoer, deputy director of Project 2061 and principal investigator for the assessment project. "With these new items, educational researchers will be able to answer important questions about the impact of various curriculum materials and instructional strategies, and teachers will be able to find out what their students know and can do and to pinpoint areas where they need more help."
The new effort builds on Project 2061's ongoing studies of assessment, which have found that too many science and math items are poorly written and fail to measure the knowledge for which students are being held responsible. While many existing items cover a general topic such as cells or fractions, few are aligned to the precise concepts targeted by content standards.
In contrast, the items to be included in Project 2061's new collection will be specially designed to provide explicit evidence that a student has-or has not-learned a specific idea or skill. This precision and the diagnostic assessment it makes possible have new urgency given the standards-based testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
To make its assessment resources widely available to teachers, curriculum and test developers, researchers, and the general public, Project 2061 will provide online access to items through an interface adapted from the conceptual strand maps in its popular Atlas of Science Literacy. Interactive maps will allow users to search by state standard, national standard, topic, or type of assessment item.
For more information about Project 2061's work on testing and assessment, visit www.project2061.org/assessment.
18 March 2004
Copyright © 2013. American Association for the
Advancement of Science.
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