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New NAEP Science Assessment Framework

Governing Board Launches Project to Develop New NAEP Science Assessment Framework

(November 1, 2004) The National Assessment Governing Board has awarded a $1.3 million contract for a major, widely inclusive project to develop a new framework and specifications for the national assessment of science beginning in 2009.

The contract was awarded to WestEd, a nonprofit research, development, and service organization, headquartered in San Francisco, with extensive experience in science education and assessment. Subcontractor for the 15-month project will be the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which has played an important role in developing previous assessments for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In addition, three major science and education organizations will collaborate in the project to ensure wide input from scientists, teachers, state education officials, and interested members of the public. The three groups are the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS).

"The Governing Board believes it is important to take a careful new look at developments in science and how the subject is being taught and tested now across the United States and internationally too," said Charles E. Smith, Executive Director of NAGB. "We want to consider the best research available and hear a wide range of views to help the Board decide how NAEP will assess science in the future."

The National Assessment surveys science achievement of nationally-representative samples of students in grades 4, 8, and 12, and of state-level samples in grades 4 and 8. The current NAEP science assessment framework was adopted by NAGB 13 years ago. It will be used once again this winter in the assessment set for January-March 2005.

The framework development committees for the new 2009 science assessment will consist of scientists, science teachers, test and measurement experts, and others with a wide range of backgrounds, including parents, local and state policy makers, and representatives of business and the general public.

Their work will start with consideration of an issues paper being prepared by a panel of five eminent science educators. Among the issues that may be considered are the balance on the assessment between science content and process; the possibility of reporting results for particular branches of science, such as chemistry and physics; and the role of national science standards in framework development.

The committees will also consider detailed analyses of state science education standards and assessments, as well as of international assessments. The framework will recommend priorities for the science content to be covered by NAEP and also deal with how to approach public policy issues involving science.

The project steering committee will be chaired by Gerald Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, and Rolf Blank, director of education indicators programs at CCSSO. The planning committee will be chaired by Richard Shavelson, professor of education and psychology at Stanford University, and Senta Raizen, director of the National Center for Improving Science Education, a division of WestEd located in Washington, DC.

The Governing Board plans to hold hearings and solicit comment on the Internet on the framework recommendations. It plans to act on the new framework in late 2005.

The 26-member Governing Board, composed of state and local officials, educators, and public and business representatives, was established by Congress in 1988 to set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

NAEP surveys have been conducted on a national sample basis since 1969. State-level surveys in reading, mathematics, science, and writing began in 1990. The NAEP program is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, an agency in the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. It currently is conducted under contract by Educational Testing Service, Westat, Inc., and several other testing and research organizations.

Lawrence Feinberg

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the only nationally representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of education in the United States. It has served as a national yardstick of student achievement since 1969. Through the Nation's Report Card, NAEP informs the public about what American students know and can do in various subject areas and compares achievement between states, large urban districts, and various student demographic groups.
The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, bipartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988 to oversee and set policy for NAEP.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The National Center for Education Statistics, within the Institute of Education Sciences, administers NAEP. The Commissioner of Education Statistics is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project.