This website provides easy access to some of the questions NAEP asks students at 4th, 8th, and 12th grades to probe students? knowledge of specific science knowledge/concepts. Scoring guides and national data make it possible to compare one?s students? performance on a specific question to that of the students across the nation. The questions are presented for the use of teachers, parents, students, and others, but only a small portion of each NAEP assessment is released. Consequently, the released questions in this tool do not represent complete coverage of the content, cognitive skills, and range of difficulty in the NAEP assessment for a particular subject area. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Since 1969, assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and the arts. This particular site focuses on science education.
To become familiar with the type of content assessed by questions on the NAEP tests (reflecting current educational and assessment practices) and to use the questions to compare achievement to national results.
Target Student Population:
The site is useful for researchers, educators, teachers, and student teachers. It is especially valuable for prospective science teachers of grades 3 ? 12. NAEP assesses representative samples of students in certain grades or at certain ages in public and nonpublic schools in the United States. For the main NAEP assessment, students are selected from grades 4, 8, and 12 in public and nonpublic schools. For the state assessments, the number of subjects and grades selected varies, depending on available funding. (State-level samples have included public and nonpublic school students since 1994. In 2000, however, nonpublic schools will not be included in the state-level samples.) For the long-term trend assessments, students at grades 4, 8, and 11 are sampled for writing, and students at ages 9, 13, and 17 are sampled for science, mathematics, and reading. Since 1984, NAEP has been administered every two years.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Navigation using a browser.
Type of Material:
Database of test questions, scoring rubrics, and national data.
In teacher education this would be a good site for a science methods class, an educational assessment and evaluation course, and/or graduate education research in education. This database has the potential to provide valid and reliable measures that could be used as standardized measures to compare results in classroom action research.
Requires version 4.0 or higher of Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers and has been optimized for displays at a resolution of 800 x 600 or higher. The small font of the question selection charts are not readable in some browser configurations (Netscape on a Mac).
Evaluation and Observation
NAEP has two major goals in relation to science education in K-12 schools: (1) to reflect current educational and assessment practices, and (2)to measure change reliably over time. To meet these dual goals, NAEP selects nationally representative samples of students who participate in either the main NAEP assessments or the long-term trend NAEP assessments. Making standardized test questions public is an important first step toward putting these standardized tests into perspective. Teachers wonder how they are doing when they teach, but they rarely have measures that empower them to compare their performance with that of other teachers. These questions place the assessment of teaching and learning where it belongs ? in the hands of professional teachers. The site provides 114 different science education questions asked of 4th, 8th, and 12th graders. Along with each question, the educator can view performance date, content classification, scoring guide/key, a range of student response examples from strong and appropriate to inappropriate, and more data on the collected information of science education at the time these questions were asked. The layout of the site allows you to move progressively through the sequenced content questions from grade 4 to grade 12. This is a very informative site, especially since other content areas addressed in the NAEP report card can also be accessed from this site. The questions provide the opportunity for scrutiny by the stakeholders. Scientists, teachers, and other community members should all have a voice in what is assessed by the standardized measures that are paid for by tax dollars. For the main NAEP assessment,
students are selected from grades 4, 8, and 12 in public and nonpublic schools. For the state assessments, the number of subjects and grades selected varies, depending on available funding. (State-level samples have included public and nonpublic school students since 1994. In 2000, however, nonpublic schools will not be included in the state-level samples.) For the long-term trend assessments, students at grades 4, 8, and 11 are sampled for writing, and students at ages 9, 13, and 17 are sampled for science, mathematics, and reading. Since 1984, NAEP has been administered every two years.
Some of the questions are deemed invalid by faculty with content expertise. For example, the evolution question with cladogram answers has no correct answer. Also, poor content coverage of some topics limits the utility of this database. In the future, we hope that questions could be posted and screened before they are actually used on standardized tests.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Selection and discussion of assessment questions is a very important part of the teaching and learning process. This site can be used to show how to assess science education competency but can also be used to help university students learn about the range of venues within science and how students may respond to these venues through questioning. A variety of questioning techniques are presented with supporting data on how students respond. Analysis of data and information covered in the NAEP report card on science can offer educators a pertinent and important perspective in teaching. Furthermore, the NAEP testing results reports combined with review of these questions make discussion of equity issues in terms of learning outcomes by race and sex more meaningful.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Navigation, selection of questions, and printing of questions with scoring rubrics and national data is very easy. Using Internet Explorer, the site is visually well designed and easy to navigate.
Unfortunately, saving the questions for further editing or to combine them with other questions on a unit or final exam does not work. When viewing certain pages the download time is long because of the charts and images, so viewers should be prepared to wait. The test question selection charts used at this web site were constructed on a PC using Internet Explorer and are unreadable using Netscape on a Mac. The fonts cannot be changed. A magnifying glass is needed to read the links within the charts when viewing the site with Netscape. Furthermore, the links for reviewing the Scorer's Commentary within the Student Responses section do not work on a Mac using Netscape
Other Issues and Comments:
Please continue and increase access to NAEP test questions. This work is appreciated by teacher educators!