Developing Science Assessments for Language Diversity in Early Elementary Classrooms

This project will design instructional assessment materials by using an innovative and unique design approach that brings together the coherent and systematic design elements of evidence-centered design, an equity and inclusion framework for the design of science materials, and inclusive design principles for language-diverse learners. Using this three-pronged approach, this project will develop a suite of NGSS aligned formative assessment tasks for first-grade science and a set of instructional materials to support teachers as they administer the formative assessments to students with diverse language skills and capacities.

Full Description

There is an urgent need for vetted classroom-based, formative assessment tasks for the early grades that align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); specifically, ones that consider the language and literacy diversity of young students, and explicitly integrate equity and inclusion for young science learners in the design. This project will design instructional assessment materials by using an innovative and unique design approach that brings together the coherent and systematic design elements of evidence-centered design, an equity and inclusion framework for the design of science materials, and inclusive design principles for language-diverse learners. Using this three-pronged approach, this project will develop a suite of NGSS aligned formative assessment tasks for first-grade science and a set of instructional materials to support teachers as they administer the formative assessments to students with diverse language skills and capacities. These resources will be of high utility for classroom teachers in the early elementary grades and offer an important step towards meeting the need for useable NGSS aligned assessments for the early grades. The design approach will provide assessment developers with a rigorously designed and tested model for developing their own NGSS-aligned assessments which will support the study of science in early elementary classrooms and promote further development of new curriculum materials, and support the evaluation of existing curriculum materials.

This project will develop small group checks and individual checks as formative assessments and study the design features, implementation practices, and affordances of each assessment. To accomplish the goals of this project, the project will bridge the Next Generation Science Assessment for Young Scientists (NGSA-YS) and the Equity and Inclusion Curriculum Design (EI-CD) approaches to generate a novel and innovative assessment design and development approach. The combined approach will generate new assessments that reliably measure young learners’ NGSS three-dimensional science proficiency and purposefully position equity and inclusivity as central to the design of the assessments. In addition, the project will develop resources that guide teachers’ implementation and scoring of the assessments and their application of results to inform instruction in language-diverse classrooms. To support claims about validity, the project will collect data from multiple sources including expert reviews, cognitive interviews of student performance, a small classroom pilot, and a larger field study. The project will use established psychometric and qualitative approaches to investigate the structure of scores from the assessment tasks, evaluate whether assessment tasks provide students with sufficient and inclusive opportunities to demonstrate their proficiencies in science and ensure that formative use of the assessment tasks provides appropriate grade and language and literacy information needed to make instructional decisions. Classroom implementation data will also be collected to learn about challenges in teacher administration and scoring, and the usability and value of the assessments to teachers. This project will contribute to the field of science education by providing teachers with formative assessment tasks, rubrics, and support materials for use in their classrooms and by providing assessment developers with a model for creating NGSS assessments for Grade 1 that includes principles and design documents for developing additional tasks.

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