Articulating a Transformative Approach for Designing Tasks that Measure Young Learners' Developing Proficiencies in Integrated Science and Literacy (Collaborative Research: Harris)

The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades. Specific goals of the effort will be: (1) to iteratively develop and refine a design approach that enables assessment designers to develop Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned tasks and rubrics that include a literacy component for the early grades; (2) to use this design approach to create two exemplar assessment tasks that are feasible for classroom use; and (3) to collect initial evidence that informs the promise of the design approach.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1903103
Funding Period: 
December 15, 2018 to November 30, 2019
Full Description: 

SRI International, University of California-Berkeley (Lawrence Hall of Science), and WestEd will join efforts to articulate a potentially transformative approach for designing new kinds of classroom-based, three-dimensional assessment tasks that measure first graders' proficiencies in integrated science and literacy learning. The main goal of this study will be to conduct exploratory-design work to produce both the design approach and the early-stage tasks that are critical inputs for creating a program of research and development to more fully develop a suite of innovative assessment tasks for the early grades. Specific goals of the effort will be: (1) to iteratively develop and refine a design approach that enables assessment designers to develop Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-aligned tasks and rubrics that include a literacy component for the early grades; (2) to use this design approach to create two exemplar assessment tasks that are feasible for classroom use; and (3) to collect initial evidence that informs the promise of the design approach.

The work's research question will be: How can we extend current methodology to create assessments that integrate the three dimensions of the NGSS and literacy for early learners? The study will select first grade as the learning environment and two of the NGSS first grade performance expectations as the assessment targets. First grade students are typically at a critical point in developing their language and literacy proficiencies, which will allow the team to take on the challenges of variation in language and literacy skills. Correspondingly, the study will select two NGSS first grade life sciences performance expectations, because they include direct ties to literacy practices in science: (1) From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes (Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive); and (2) Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits (Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like their parents). The design phase of the activity will consist of an assessment of the learning context and targets of the study, and the development of an assessment framework following the National Research Center's report, "Designing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards" (2014), including the principled assessment evidence-centered-design methodology. Data gathering, and interpretation strategies will include Experts' Review of the design approach, a focus group of teachers (n=8), and one-on-one cognitive interviews with students (n=20), conducted by researchers, which will be recorded to determine the quality and usability of the assessments using qualitative methods. The ultimate outcome of the proposed work will be a design approach for creating assessment tasks in a principled way across science disciplines for early elementary grade students. An advisory board will provide formative assessment feedback to the research team.

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