The need for a comprehensive and cohesive system of assessments, to effectively support implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), has been recommended and emphasized. This paper provides a thoughtful analysis of high-level designs for a system of assessments to effectively support the NGSS. Policymakers will find this paper informative, as it includes a description of how the system design can be approached (including the use of evidence-centered design principles); three possible high-level designs of the system, and one less-optimal design for contrast; and recommendations to guide the use of the system.
Due to the inherent complexity of the NGSS, the NRC recommends that multiple and varied assessment opportunities be provided to students, to allow them to demonstrate their proficiency with the NGSS performance expectations. This paper provides a thorough and detailed exploration into the design of a system of assessments that can provide these opportunities throughout the learning progression. The author incorporates a discussion of the NRC’s assessment triangle and the application of evidence-centered design principles into her analyses, and presents important design decisions that policymakers and assessment developers should consider during the design of the system. The information is relevant and timely, as many states have begun the process of implementing the NGSS and designing assessment systems to support the NGSS.