Organization

University of Michigan

Project Description

Comparing Science Assessment Within and Across Middle Schools

Project Abstract

This is a qualitative study of science assessment information practices in different types of middle schools. It looks at three different roles important to science education in a school: the classroom teacher, the school leader, and the science specialist; and asks questions about how they perceive and use assessment information. This study comes at a time of new pressures on schools regarding science education. Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation requires states to include testing in science. Further, new approaches to the standards and assessment for science education, including the 2009 science framework for the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), are being articulated at the national level. This study also fills in critical gaps in the research literature on how assessments are used in practice and how science support organizations vary across districts.
For any participating school, the study is short. Participating schools will benefit by having the opportunity to both learn about how science assessments are used in one or more of their schools and learn some different ways to measure student learning of scientific concepts and acquisition of scientific skills. Case study reports and presentations of the dissertation findings will be made available at no cost to any district and school that participates. For these schools, the knowledge gained from participation will include all the schools studied as well as the knowledge base of the researchers involved who are active in relevant federally funded research into standards, measurement, and classroom practice. A draft of the case study report will be made available for review to ensure that it properly represents the school practices. If requested, recommendations for approaches to science assessment can be included in reports and presentations.
The information collected in this study falls into two categories: a catalog of assessment instruments/reports and recorded interviews with school personnel. No students or student specific data are needed. Because the study does involve understanding the nature of official student records (type and level of detail), samples of student records are used. If these samples contain identifying student information, a simple procedure is use to ensure compliance with the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The researcher is expected to be in the school for about two weeks and in contact with the school for about a month, including scheduling and follow-up. Scheduling is flexible based upon availability of school personnel.
This study is for a doctoral dissertation in the University of Michigan�s School of Education. The dissertation committee is co-chaired by the School�s Associate Dean for Research and former president of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) and by a leader in measurement and evidence in education who recently chaired the American Educational Research Association�s (AERA) task force on Standards for Reporting on Research Methods in AERA publications and who is currently editing a volume of the National Society for the Study of Education titled �Evidence and Decision Making.�

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