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Current State Science Assessments: Is Nothing Better Than Something? TAP

Gong, Brian; Lahart, Colleen M.; Courtney, Rosalea G.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Academic Achievement, California Achievement Tests, Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Metropolitan Achievement Tests, Science Achievement, Stanford Achievement Tests, State Programs, Test Use, Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP)


This study reports a survey of current state science assessments. The study examined the extent to which the assessments supported standards of student performance consistent with three goals of science education reform: 1) focus on or promote development of depth of knowledge rather than breadth; 2) focus on central concepts and skills rather than on lower-level facts; 3) make connections to technical, personal, and social applications. Information about each state's science assessment practices was col-lected, including whether a state science assessment was mandated, the publisher of the assessment, and use of test scores. A sample of state science test instruments was subjected to content and cognitive analysis. The analysis indicated that for a large majority of states, science assessments were not a driving force in directing the curriculum or instructional practices towards the standards of science education reform. Almost 50% of the states did not have a state science assessment. The state science assessments currently used were not consistent with the science education reform goals examined in this study. The implications of these findings were discussed for assessment and reform of science education at the state level. (27pp.)

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