Science Framework for the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress
In the rapidly changing world of the 21st century, science literacy is an essential goal for all of our nation’s youth. Through science education, children come to understand the world in which they live and learn to apply scientific principles in many facets of their lives. In addition, our country has an obligation to provide young people who choose to pursue careers in science and technology with a strong foundation for their postsecondary study and work experience. The nation’s future depends on scientifically literate citizens who can participate as informed members of society and as a highly skilled scientific workforce, well prepared to address challenging issues at the local, national, and global levels. Recent studies, including national and international assessments, indicate that our schools still do not adequately educate all students in science.
Science seeks to increase our understanding of the natural world through empirical evidence. Such evidence gathered through observation and measurement allows for an explanation and prediction of natural phenomena. Hence, a scientifically literate person is familiar with the natural world and understands key facts, concepts, principles, laws, and theories of science, such as the motion of objects, the function of cells in living organisms, and the properties of Earth materials. Further, a scientifically literate person can connect ideas across disciplines; for example, the conservation of energy in physical, life, Earth, and space systems. Scientific literacy also encompasses understanding the use of scientific principles and ways of thinking to advance our knowledge of the natural world as well as the use of science to solve problems in real-world contexts, which this document refers to as “Using Technological Design.”
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and its reports are a key measure in informing the nation on how well the goal of scientific literacy for all students is being met. The Science Framework for the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress sets forth the design of the NAEP Science Assessment. The 2015 NAEP Science Assessment will use the same framework used in 2009. The 2009 NAEP Science Assessment started a new NAEP science trend (i.e., measure of student progress in science), and the 2015 NAEP Science Report Card will include student performance trends from 2009 to 2015. Trends in student science achievement were reported from 1996 to 2005 as well. However, the trend from 1996 to 2005 was not continued due to major differences between the 2005 and 2009 frameworks. The 2009 – 2015 framework represents a unique opportunity to build on key developments in science standards, assessments, and research. This document is intended to inform the general public, educators, policymakers, and others about what students are expected to know and be able to do in science as part of The Nation’s Report Card, a program of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that reports on NAEP findings.