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How Was the NAEP Science Assessment Developed?

The NAEP science assessment is based on the science framework, which describes the goals of the assessment. The framework provides

  • the theoretical basis for the assessment; and
  • the directions for what kinds of exercises should be included in the assessment, how those exercises should be designed, and how student responses should be scored.

The framework was the result of a national consensus effort under the auspices of the National Assessment Governing Board. The framework is a broadly accepted outline of what hundreds of educators, curriculum experts, policy makers, and members of the general public thought the assessment should test.

After the completion of the framework, the NAEP Science Committee worked with measurement specialists to create the assessment questions and scoring criteria according to the framework's specifications. All exercises and scoring criteria were carefully reviewed to ensure that the assessment met the requirements of the science framework. Explore sample questions and related student performance data from the assessment.

In addition to testing cognitive abilities, NAEP collects information that helps to put student achievement in context. Four kinds of questionnaires provide context for NAEP assessment results:

  • student questionnaires that examine background characteristics, subject-area experience, and motivation on the assessment;
  • teacher questionnaires that gather data on the background and training of teachers and classroom-by-classroom information;
  • school questionnaires that ask principals about school size and other characteristics; and
  • SD and/or ELL (students with disabilities or English language learners) questionnaires that ask the person most familiar with the student about accommodations normally permitted.

These questionnaires are developed using a framework and process review similar to that used for developing the cognitive questions. This process includes reviews by external advisory groups and reviews of field-test results. When developing the questionnaires, NAEP ensures that the questions do not infringe on respondents' privacy, that they are grounded in educational research, and that the answers can provide information relevant to the subject being assessed.

The questionnaires appear in separately timed blocks of questions in the assessment booklets (such as the student questionnaires) or they are printed separately (such as the teacher, school, and SD questionnaires).

Last updated 24 March 2012 (JM)