Assessments

Assessment items have been developed through various projects. You can browse them by the project through which they were developed or by associated NGSS statements across all projects.

The Toward High School Biology (THSB) test items were developed to assess middle school students’ understanding of ideas about matter changes that are aligned to learning goals in the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards. The items were developed to evaluate the promise of the Toward High School Biology curriculum unit that is published by NSTA Press (AAAS, 2017). The test items can be used to assess students’ understanding of NGSS ideas, crosscutting concepts, and practices, irrespective of any specific curriculum.

Development of the test items involved reviewing the relevant NGSS learning goals, including performance expectations, evidence statements, disciplinary core ideas, science practices, and related statements from the NRC Framework. Research on student learning was examined to identify common misconceptions, which were then incorporated into the items as distractors. Items were pilot tested with 532 students from a school district that had adopted NGSS but was not participating in the curriculum study. The pilot test data was used to inform revisions to the items and the selection of the items for the final pre/posttest that was used to measure the effect of the curriculum on student learning gains.

The test items assess students’ understanding of ideas about chemical reactions at both the substance level and the atomic/molecular level in both simple physical systems and complex biological systems, along with aspects of the science practices of analyzing data, developing and using models, and constructing explanations. The field test of the curriculum unit included 36 multiple choice items, 3 of which also asked students to explain why the answer they chose is correct and the other answer choices are incorrect. Students took the test prior to their having instruction on the targeted ideas and again following instruction. Multiple-choice items, misconceptions assessed, and scoring rubrics for the two-tiered items are provided in this tab.

Assessment Items


Select a science topic to see a list of the key ideas for that topic and options for viewing items and additional information.

Life Science

Physical Science

Earth Science

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Nature of Science

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Project Funder


The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A100714 to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.