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About This Web Guide

In this web guide, educators can learn about different types of assessment and view examples of assessments from many different science instructional materials. This guide is organized into three sections: Elementary Assessments (K–5), Middle School Assessments (6–8), and High School Assessments (9–12).

Within each grade level section, assessment examples have been categorized into five groups: (1) observations, interviews, and discussions, (2) written assessments, (3) performance assessments, (4) graphics, and (5) self-assessments. Several examples of each type of assessment are provided for each grade level group.

Many assessment experts sort assessments into just two categories: formative (tracking progress before or during instruction) and summative (evaluating achievement after instruction). This categorization is helpful because it focuses educators on the purposes of the assessment. In CSEs experience, however, many educators connect with a categorization system that focuses on types, or forms.

Under observations, interviews, and discussions, you will find observational assessments that are supported by checklists, informal note taking or scoring rubrics. Some are designed to be used as baseline assessments, others as embedded or final assessments.

For different age groups, Written Assessments may include class charts, science notebook entries, quick-writes, post unit tests, or introductory questionnaires.

Performance assessments may be conducted at the beginning, the middle or the end of a unit. Depending on the age group and the goals of the unit, performance assessments may include the carrying out of simple activities or procedures, presentations or demonstrations, or role playing and simulations.

Graphic Assessments include drawings, diagrams, charts and graphs that students create to show their understanding.

Depending on the specific goals of self-assessments, students may be asked to reflect on their own science understanding, or on their attitudes or working styles. They may be conducted as a baseline, embedded or post unit assessment.

These categories are not intended to be a comprehensive list of assessment types; they merely pinpoint some of the notable forms of assessments found in exemplary instructional materials. These categories are not absolute. There are many fuzzy boundaries among assessment forms, and some of the assessment examples features in this guide could be sorted into more than one category.

CSE purposefully selected an array of assessments that are distributed equally among the earth, physical, and life science domains. Though a few instructional programs take a much more comprehensive approach to assessment than others, CSE chose to feature examples from a variety of programs. By taking this approach, educators have an opportunity to see many different styles of assessment , and look at examples of a great variety of instructional materials.

Trends in the Assessment Landscape

Educators will notice several common threads among the assessments featured in this Web guide.

  • Many of the assessments are open-ended, inviting rich and varied student responses.
  • Many of the assessments are interwoven within classroom activities, and are sometimes indistinguishable from instruction. Because of this, many of the assessments are very informal, such as quick-writes in student notebooks.
  • Many of the assessments require new approaches to scoring, in which teachers rate students according to degrees of performance.
  • Many of the assessments involve students in the evaluation process.

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