Developing Appropriate Assessment and Evaluation Practices for the Next Generation Science Standards

1. Focus of the workshop/relevance to ASTE membership:
Despite an expanding interest in educational assessment and evaluation, teachers have not been given the skills and tools to carry out assessment and evaluation in a way that is useful for practical everyday decision making. The current initiative to apply the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) provides both opportunity and challenge to develop the methods needed to give teachers sound information on which to base the ongoing improvement of curriculum and instruction. The workshop will introduce participants to the fundamental concepts and skills that teachers will need to design and carry out assessment and evaluation activities related to the Next Generation Science Standards.

2. Outline of the workshop and instructional strategies:
Part I, Cubes & Liquids (25 min) — Demonstration of an experiential classroom activity called Cubes & Liquids (http://www.acase.org/educational-assessment/); participants will experience Cubes & Liquids as it would be administered to students in a secondary school science class. The activity exemplifies how to assess six core capabilities that are critical to success in the STEM disciplines, in alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Part II, What are Educational Assessment and Evaluation? (35 min) — A review of the demonstration will show participants how to decompose educational events to reveal the essential elements of educational processes, in particular the roles of assessment and evaluation. Participants will then be given concrete examples of concepts and techniques essential to building and carrying out assessment and evaluation activities with a particular focus on how assessment information can be displayed to monitor student attainment over time for the purpose of program evaluation and improvement.

Part III, From Standards to Valued Outcomes (30 min) — The presenter will take an example of an NGSS standard identified by a participant and lead the group in developing practical learning goals, and examples of how to elicit student performances that can serve as evidence of attainment of the standard.

Part IV, Conclusion and Summation (20 min) — Q&A. How can these professional capabilities be developed further? Workshop evaluation
(There will be a 10 minute intermission between Part II and Part III)

3. Learning Objectives
a) The workshop is built around 12 teacher education learning objectives fundamental to the understanding and practice of educational assessment and evaluation:
1. Uses the concept of the learning goal to identify the end towards which all educational processes/activities are directed
2. Uses the concept of the learning goal to distinguish assessment from the other essential features of educational processes/activities
3. Uses the concept of the learning goal to distinguish instruction from the other essential features of educational processes/activities
4. Applies the concept of the critical level of specificity in the design of curriculum, assessment and instruction i.e., distinguishes broader learning goals from those specified at a level appropriate for practical units of instruction
5. Applies the concept of core capabilities to educational planning and decision-making
6. Applies the distinction between domains of learning to educational planning and decision-making
7. Distinguishes educational assessment from testing and grading
8. Distinguishes educational assessment from educational evaluation
9. Brings concern for the notion of validity to challenges and problems in assessment and evaluation
10. Brings concern for the notion of reliability to challenges and problems in assessment and evaluation
11. Applies assessment information to evaluate educational activities
12. Applies assessment information to build community
b) The capabilities underlying these objectives are what teachers and educational specialists need to systematically address the question of “What was learned?” in a way that makes effective use of the resulting information in educational practice.

c) Judging the Effectiveness of the Workshop
Evaluation of the effectiveness of a workshop of this kind requires sensitivity to the large number of learning objectives. There is a great deal of ambiguity in the field of education regarding the use of critical terms, e.g. assessment and evaluation themselves. Consequently, introduction to and work with the targeted learning objectives will require stipulating definitions in order to attain a common sense of clarity and precision regarding the underlying capabilities. This and the large number of objectives that are targeted means that participants will not be able to achieve depth or develop substantial skill regarding the objectives. Rather, the intention is that participants will grasp the meaning of the targeted capabilities and perceive their usefulness to systematic educational design and program improvement. To assess these intended outcomes, participants will be surveyed at the end of the workshop regarding how clear and useful each of the objectives appears to them. These combined judgments and perceptions will provide a basis for improving introductory workshops of this kind in the future.

4. Availability:
A forum on NGSS assessment and evaluation for this workshop has been set up at the Forum for Educational Arts and Sciences at http://educationalrenewal.org/forum/ngss-aste-workshop/ . Workshop participants will be invited to visit that site and, under the supervision of the presenter, to pose questions and share reports of their efforts to apply the content of the workshop.

5. Appeal to ASTE Membership:
The workshop can be of interest to the full range of ASTE membership (methods instructors, educational researchers, curriculum developers, etc.). The building of practical, valid and reliable assessments that support actual instruction related to NGSS standards is currently the most critical challenge facing these standards. If practical assessments can be developed that teachers actually value and use to monitor the attainments of their students’ progress on NGSS based objectives, a key component for success will have been put in place. Heretofore educational research and evaluation has relied on high-stakes, norm-referenced tests which do not provide the information needed for informing instruction and program improvement. Consequently, in addition to teachers, many educational specialists, lack the foundations needed to build practical and useful assessments. Assessment is, in essence, the application of scientific investigation to answer the question “What has been learned and how well?” Science teachers and those who have responsibility for the preparation of science teachers have a special contribution to make to a scientific approach to this question. The workshop aims at introducing those responsible for teacher preparation and professional development to the fundamentals underlying practical assessment and evaluation.

6. Presenter’s Expertise/Experience in the Topic Area:
The presenter, Paul Zachos, PhD, currently directs the Association for the Cooperative Advancement of Science and Education (ACASE), an independent association of scientists and teachers. He is a 30+ year veteran in the field of educational assessment and evaluation. He has provided services in these disciplines to individual teachers, schools, school districts, state and federal agencies and private industry. Paul delivered an online course for science teachers, organized around an earlier version of these same learning objectives, for the Astrobiology Teachers Academy, a NASA NAI funded project of the New York Center for Astrobiology.

7. Costs, Number of Participants, Materials and Technological Supports:
There will be no charge for participation in this workshop. The number of people able to participate will depend on available facilities, that is on how many people will be able to clearly see the tabletop demonstration and hear the presenter. If audio and visual enhancement supports are not available the workshop should be limited to 30 or so participants. The presentation will require high speed internet access and the capacity to project illustrative images of assessment reports on a screen. Participants will need to have desks or flat boards on which they can write in order to fill out the lab reports that will be generated during the Cubes & Liquids demonstration. The presenter will provide materials needed for lab reports and an evaluation survey.