We’re preparing our students to think like scientists.

Delaware is leading the nation in the way students are assessed in science. Real-world science requires students to integrate knowledge with application, yet students often are assessed on state tests primarily on their factual knowledge. The next generation of statewide science assessments in Delaware will go beyond multiple choice and short answer questions to allow students to demonstrate true scientific literacy. This new approach to science testing allows educators to more accurately assess student learning and informs student needs in the path to true science mastery.

The new assessments will launch in grades 5, 8 and in high school biology in the 2018-19 school year. End-of-unit assessments for subsequent grades are expected to be launched in stages from 2019-20 through 2020-21. For more information, visit the August 2016 press release.

 

More than just new testing: A complete assessment system

Delaware envisions an integrated network of assessments. The network provides science teachers and their students with data that will be used to plan and improve instruction and help diagnose areas for student growth.

  • In Grades 3 through 10:
    • Embedded assessments (quizzes) provide educators and students information on learning in real time. These will be teacher-developed by Delaware teachers for classroom use with the intention of becoming part of an open access item bank that teachers can use at their discretion. Primarily formative in nature, these assessments will provide frequent checkpoints and be administered at the discretion of each teacher.
    • End-of-Unit Assessments (Tests) given shortly after the completion of each instructional unit. In each grade, the academic school year is divided into three to four units, each of which is aligned to a specific area. Each end-of-unit test is meant to provide information on student learning of the science standards in each unit for the purposes of instruction (this will be helpful in determining if additional instruction on previously instructed topics is needed) as well as informing curriculum adoption, adaptation, and modification at classroom, school, district and state levels. These tests are meant to be used as instructional assessments as part of the typical instructional year – in other words, teachers can use them in the place of current classroom unit tests.
  • In Grades 5, 8 and in grade 10 high school biology:
    • Performance tasks will be designed to capture students’ learning of the unit in greater depth than on the end-of-unit tests. This assessment is meant to capture the ways that students integrate, transfer and apply science knowledge and skills learned during the year. This assessment also will be used to meet federal requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

 

NGSS Assessment: Guided by Delaware Teachers

  • Now entering its third year, Delaware’s NextGen Teacher Leader Program is a collaboration of nearly 200 Delaware teachers as they work to align science instruction and classroom assessments to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). New in 2016, 21 NextGen team leads are also supporting this work.
  • In addition, a smaller writing team is creating effective NGSS-based instructional models for use in Delaware classrooms.
  • The NGSS assessment will test student mastery of the state’s NGSS instructional models, asking students to show how they can solve problems, not just get the right answer.
  • Delaware was a lead state partner in the development of NGSS, which emphasize inquiry, engineering design and understanding the broad concepts that are common to all scientific disciplines.
  • NextGen teacher leaders will help field test the assessments, and provide guidance and feedback to strengthen each question. Additionally, they will help to review each test question for bias and sensitivity.

 

Timing

PHASE 1: 2016-17 Academic Year – Research and Design: Department of Education works with vendor to research and help develop the type of tasks and questions needed on the new assessment
PHASE 11: 2017-18 Academic Year – Development and Implementation: Operational field test underway

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