Next Generation Science Assessment

The Next Generation Science Assessment Project is a collaboration among the following four institutions:

  • University of Illinois at Chicago (James Pellegrino, Principal Investigator; Louis DiBello, Co-Principal Investigator)
  • SRI International (Christopher Harris, Principal Investigator)
  • Michigan State University (Joseph Krajcik, Principal Investigator)
  • The Concord Consortium (Daniel Damelin, Institutional Lead) 

Using the evidence-centered design framework as a guide, we have articulated a process for designing and developing assessments that science teachers can use formatively to gauge their students’ progress on NGSS performance expectations. We have developed a set of exemplar assessment tasks for middle school physical science. Additionally, we are in the process of developing assessment tasks for middle school life science. These tasks are freely available for teachers to incorporate into their classroom teaching.

The latest details and information can be found at the main project site at:

Designing Assessments in Science Across Three Dimensions

Currently, few supports are in place to guide the successful implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Both the Framework for K-12 Science Education and NGSS committees recognize that assessment is essential and that a key challenge will be to develop new measures of learning that take into account the interdependence of content and practice. Designing assessment tasks based on science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts as articulated in NGSS performance expectations will address numerous challenges for complex assessment. Few existing curriculum-embedded classroom assessments or large-scale assessment items richly integrate students’ understanding of both content and practice. Multiple stakeholders will need high quality examples of such assessments to better understand and instantiate the vision of NGSS and support the transition to implementation of the new standards.

This project is a multi-institutional effort to develop next-generation assessments that address (1) the physical science disciplinary topics of Matter and Its Interactions and Energy, as well as the life science disciplinary topics of Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes and Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics; (2) the science practices of constructing explanations, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, and analyzing and interpreting data; and (3) the crosscutting concepts of Patterns, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Cause and Effect, and Energy and Matter.

Principal Investigators

Dan Damelin
Jim Pellegrino
Lou DiBello
Christopher Harris
Joe Krajcik

Project Inquiries

Project Partners

University of Illinois at Chicago
SRI International
Michigan State University

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1316874, 1316903, 1316908. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

The project will incorporate principles of evidence-centered design and state-of-the-art psychometric methods within an integrated validity framework to develop, test and analyze sets of technology-supported diagnostic classroom assessments for middle school physical science and life science. The proposed research directly addresses a combination of cognitive, instructional and inferential aspects of validity and is gathering and analyzing a large database of student performance from a range of classrooms and curricular contexts. Our classroom studies occur classrooms using curriculum materials designed to help students learn the science practices and content specified in NGSS.

Assessments are iteratively designed and administered in middle school science classrooms to ensure usability. They will be administered across middle school grade levels to enable an examination of how students might progress over time in their ability to integrate the NGSS dimensions in the physical science and life science disciplines. The validity studies address cognitive, inferential, and instructional aspects of validity and include expert reviews of alignment with the Framework and the NGSS, student cognitive analyses, classroom observation, teacher interviews, and psychometric analyses. A unique feature of the research will be the inclusion of teachers in co-developing resources for formative use of the assessments.

Outcomes will include: (1) a framework for principled design and analysis for assessments aligned to specific NGSS performance expectations, (2) exemplar items and rubrics that teachers can use formatively in middle school physical science and life science instruction, and (3) instructional resources for teachers’ formative use of these assessments.

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