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.