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ERIC Number: ED472723
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Feb
Pages: 55
Abstractor: N/A
Current Conceptions of Science Achievement and Implications for Assessment and Equity in Large Education Systems. Research Monograph.
Lee, Okhee
The current standards-based and systemic reform has an overarching goal: high academic standards for all students. In achieving the goal of "science for all," the key is the construct of science achievement T what K-12 students should know and be able to do in science. This paper reviews and analyzes the conceptions of science achievement in major reform documents, including those on science content standards (NSES and Project 2061), performance standards (New Standards), and large Tscale assessment frameworks (1996 NAEP and TIMSS). The analysis of these documents indicates that there is an overall agreement on the conceptions of science achievement. The documents consistently emphasize high achievement in terms of knowledge and abilities in science and technology in personal, social, and historical perspectives. Despite the overall agreement, there are also noticeable variations among the documents because of different contexts and purposes. Based on the synthesis of the conceptions of science achievement, the paper presents an aggregated view of science achievement. Science achievement is conceived of in terms of science content and science process. The components of science content include: (a) concepts and theories in physical, life, and earth and space science; (b) science, mathematics, and technology; (c) science in personal and social perspectives; (d) history and nature of science; and (e) unifying themes. The components of science process include: (a) scientific understanding; (b) scientific investigation; (c) scientific communication; and (d) scientific habits of mind. The components of science process cut across and intersect with the components of science content. The paper considers the implications of the aggregated view of science achievement for assessment and equity in large education systems. In large-scale assessments, some components of science achievement present challenges because it is difficult to operationalize them in concrete terms, to develop standardized procedures, to administer on-demand assessment, or to use multiple forms of assessment (e.g., observations, interviews, and products) in addition to written forms. Although equity is emphasized, there are tensions and dilemmas in considering equity related to science content standards and standards-based assessment. What counts as science and what should be taught in school science as presented in the content standards are often incompatible with ways of knowing and thinking in diverse cultures. The relative equity of standardized forms and alternative forms of assessment is under consideration. Major reform documents in science education consistently emphasize high achievement for all students. The available knowledge about assessment and equity, however, is limited. The difficulties with large-scale assessments are conceptual and practical, in terms of how to do the assessment within the confines of assessment settings. The difficulties with educational equity are ideological and cultural, in terms whose science should count and be taught in school science, in addition to practical matters of resources and opportunities. Now that science content standards are established, efforts should be focused on how to implement standards-based assessments and how to ensure access and achievement for all students. The alignment of assessment with the content standards, as well as the attainment of the standards by all students, are key challenges to standards-based and systemic reform in large education systems. (Author)
National Institute for Science Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1025 W. Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706. Tel: 608-263-9250; Fax: 608-262-7428; e-mail:; Web site: http://
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.
Authoring Institution: National Inst. for Science Education, Madison, WI.
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study