State of the Art: Science - September 1993
Assessment must be more closely aligned with the goals of
Perhaps the most compelling reason for developing performance assessments is that they can provide an opportunity to appraise what society currently values, but is having difficulty measuring with multiple choice tests. Whether one reads a science journal or the Wall Street Journal, there are pleas for educating students who have both the mastery of subject matter knowledge and the more general abilities to think, solve problems, communicate, and collaborate.
A view of assessment as the servant, not the master, of curriculum is transforming assessment practice. Assessment and instruction are closely linked. Since teachers experience pressures to teach to the test, the prevalence of assessments that do not test for conceptual understanding or are limited to isolated facts has led to a curriculum that focuses on factual knowledge and vocabulary. In this way, students learn discrete pieces of information and unconnected facts.
A new link between assessment and instruction is being forged through the reform movement. By using more authentic assessments such as performance-based or portfolio assessment or multiple choice tests that require thought beyond recognition and recall, more higher order thinking skills can be assessed, and students can learn through the process of assessment itself. Children must be offered many different options for communicating what they know and understand, and for raising new questions about a subject. Occasions to demonstrate ideas, quantify results, and make written, oral, or visual presentations of findings and hypotheses are essential. The important consideration is that the assessment measure progress toward the goal of the instruction.
[Appropriate staff development brings lasting improvements in science teaching.]
[Families and other concerned adults play important roles in promoting science education.]