Delaware prepares for the next generation of science assessment

girl with microscopeAs the state eyes a new science assessment, Delaware educators are using this as an opportunity to revamp how the state measures students’ science mastery.

According to the Delaware Department of Education, the next generation of tests will go beyond multiple choice and short answer assessments to include hybrid models where students manipulate materials and data offline, then provide responses on a computerized platform.

“With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, our focus has been on real-world application of science. Students are not just learning science, they are ‘doing science.’ This is an opportunity to align our testing with the changes that have been happening in our classrooms,” says Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows, who also heads the Delaware Chief School Officers Association.

The 2016-2017 academic year will be used to develop the type of tasks and questions to be included on the new assessment and prepare the design of a field test to be operational in the 2017-18 school year. The new assessment, which will replace the state’s current Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) science exam for grades 5, 8 and 10, will launch in the 2018-19 school year.

New science standards in Delaware

Delaware adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the state’s science content standards in October 2013. NGSS set expectations for what students should know by the end of every grade level in the four domains of science: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology and science application.

NGSS differ significantly from previous content standards in that they consist of three parts: disciplinary core ideas (content), science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts. Previous standards often expressed these dimensions as separate entities, leading to their separation in both instruction and assessment. The integration of rigorous content and application reflects how science is practiced in the real world.

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