Developing Assessments for the NGSS

Girl Examining Plant

The paradigm shift for science education presented in A Framework for K–12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) necessitates a significant redesign of science assessments in order to fully meet the vision of the NGSS.

From classroom-embedded assessment to high-stakes summative assessment, a new science assessment system must be thoughtfully designed and carefully implemented in order to effectively measure students’ proficiency with respect to all three dimensions of science learning presented in the NGSS.

This collection is intended to support districts and states as they endeavor to design and implement NGSS-aligned assessments—from a single assessment component to a full end-to-end assessment system—to be consistent with the vision and goals of the NGSS.

Assessment of the NGSS: An Overview

New assessments must be designed and developed to meet the challenge of accurately measuring student learning across all three dimensions of the NGSS (science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts). Both the Framework and the standards themselves will be integral to this process. 

The Assessment Continuum

A full system of assessments is called for by the NGSS to satisfy the range of needs different assessment strategies strive to fill. In order to obtain timely and accurate information about student learning with respect to the NGSS, assessment opportunities must be varied and synchronized. 

Formative and Interim Assessment
Formative assessment is designed to support classroom instruction and monitor student learning. Insights from effective formative assessment should help inform instruction and ultimately lead to more successful student learning outcomes.
Summative Assessment
Summative assessment is an important tool that can provide valuable information to stakeholders on student achievement, but measurement of student learning for the NGSS will require a new approach to summative assessment.

System Design and Implementation

The complexity of the NGSS presents both conceptual and logistical challenges when designing and implementing assessments to elicit evidence of student proficiency across all three dimensions of science learning. Some currently used approaches provide promise and could be leveraged to inform development of NGSS assessments, while other aspects of the assessment system will call for significantly different approaches than those currently in use.

Challenges, Implications, and Opportunities

Developing new assessments to address the rich, multidimensional learning described in the Framework and NGSS is not without significant challenges, but with careful implementation, these new standards provide the opportunity to re-architect science instruction and assessment to meet an ambitious vision of science learning for all students.