About the assessment items on this website
The items and other resources available on this site were developed by AAAS Project 2061 with funding from the National Science Foundation. The items are different from most multiple choice science test items in that they:
- assess students’ conceptual understanding, not just facts and definitions,
- test for common misconceptions and alternative ideas students have along with their correct ideas
- are precisely aligned to the science ideas they are intended to test
In addition, data gathered during national field tests provide an up-to-date description of science learning broken out by gender and whether or not English is the student’s primary language. The data also show how much growth has occurred between middle and high school, on what are primarily middle school ideas.
How the items were developed. Each item has gone through a rigorous developmental process. Items were revised multiple times using feedback obtained at each step of the process.
- A set of science ideas was initially selected to define the boundaries of each topic.
- From those ideas, more specific learning goals (key ideas and sub-ideas) were identified and clarified.
- A review of research on student learning was conducted to identify misconceptions and alternate ideas students have about the targeted ideas.
- Clusters of items were written to be closely aligned to the target learning goals, and student misconceptions were included in answer choices.
- Items were pilot tested, and written feedback about the items was obtained from students themselves.
- Items and target learning goals were reviewed by assessment specialists, scientists, science teachers, and other science educators.
- Items were field tested on a large national sample to obtain norming data.