Developing Assessments for the Kansas Standards for Science

Assessment development was guided by the latest research on science assessments as compiled by the National Research Council in the recent publication: 
Book cover for the National Academy Press publication, "Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards"
Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards 
(full document) (4 pg report brief)

The process of developing assessments to target the Kansas Science Standards is a journey.   




Just as the standards raise the expectations for what students know and are able to do, they will also raise the expectations of what a quality assessment looks like. Below are tools and resources to help you develop and evaluate assessments for 3 Dimensions.


Formative Assessment Tools: 

STEM Teaching Tools about 3 Dimensional Formative Assessments

STEM Teaching Tools provide informaiton regarding the support and teaching of the standards. This linked title will take you to the tools regarding assessments.

Task Annotation Project in Science

This tool can be used with exisiting assessments within a PLC setting to examine and evaluate the features of a three dimensional assessment.




Science Assessment Overview

As a part of our regular standards revision cycle and with the adoption of the standards in 2013, the Kansas State Department of Education, in partnership with the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE) at the University of Kansas, underwent a process of rebuilding our state science assessments to better target the standards in a way that evaluates the high level of learning expected by these standards.  

A four year assessment transition plan was developed below that is supportive of the 4 year plan for transitioning instruction in the classroom.

Please find current test demonstrations, content emphasis, item specifications, and performance level descriptors on the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation (CETE) site by visiting the link provided and clicking on "Science":

A quick reference Kansas Assessment Program Overview indicating current testing year windows can be found on the KSDE Assessment Site.

Kansas Science Summative Assessment Transition Overview

Continuing Shifts in the Kansas State Science Assessment

The 2015-2016 school year was the year for a field test of the newly developed assessment that targets the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards for Science.  As a field test, the primary purpose to ensure that the newly developed items are performing the way that we expect them to perform and students, teachers, buildings, and districts should not expect to receive data from these assessments other than the percent of students that participated.

There are a variety of things that are different about this assessment as we attempt to address the challenge of measuring all three dimensions of these rigorous standards.

One significant change is that the days of the tested indicator are gone.  Tested indicators were intended to give teachers a better handle on what the assessment was going to be addressing, but were misused and abused to become either the only things that students were expected to learn, or were used for drill-and-kill rote memorization activities.  At each of the tested levels, the full scope of the standards will be addressed on the assessment.

Our current standards are grade specific for grades K-5, so the elementary assessment will be given at the fifth grade level.  Though this assessment will target fifth grade standards, it should NOT be interpreted that science instruction isn't needed until 5th grade.  These standards build conceptually across grades and there is NO WAY that students not receiving quality science education across elementary school will be either successful on this assessment, or more importantly, prepared to learn science at the middle school level.  The middle school standards are grade-banded for grades 6-8; consequently the middle school assessment will occur during the eighth grade year.  Likewise, the high school standards are grade-banded and the assessment will take place in the 11th grade year.  

Another shift on this assessment is that there will be more than just  multiple choice items.  The assessment will include a variety of different item types, including technology enhanced items such as "drag and drop."  There will also be simulation items as a part of the assessment that will allow students to manipulate scenarios, collect data, and run experiments.  All of the items will be selected response items.  Whether students are presented with data, graphics, information, or a simulation to gather data and make observations, they will select their answer in some way from a given set of responses.  

These items are designed with the intent of measuring more than one dimension of the standards at a time.  This will mean that prompts will frequently not be just a question stem, but will ask students to apply what they know about all three dimensions of the standards to respond to data, graphs, descriptions of scenarios, and/or graphics.  Every attempt will be made to ensure that prompts are clear, relevant, and developmentally appropriate so that we can really measure student proficiency in science, rather than just their ability to remember science factoids or definitions.

Contact Information


Meg Richard       Michelle Irvine
K-12 Science Education Program Consultant                     Senior Administrative Assistant
(785) 296-8108       (785) 296-2078


The Kansas State Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. (more information...)

To accommodate people with disabilities, on request, auxiliary aides and services will be provided and reasonable modifications to policies and programs will be made. To request accommodations or for more information please contact the Office of General Counsel at or by 785-296-3204.

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