The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment was designed to measure students' knowledge of three broad content areas: Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth and Space Sciences; and four science practices: Identifying Science Principles, Using Science Principles, Using Scientific Inquiry, and Using Technological Design. These four practices describe how students use their science knowledge by measuring what they are able to do with the science content.
The content of the NAEP science assessment is guided by the NAEP science frameworkClick to open pdf.. It provides the theoretical basis for the assessment and describes the types of questions that should be included and how they should be designed and scored. As with all NAEP frameworks, the science framework was developed under the guidance of the National Assessment Governing Board with input from hundreds of individuals across the United States, including some of the nation’s leading scientists, science educators, policymakers, and assessment experts.
In 2009, a new framework was introduced that replaced the one used for the 1996, 2000, and 2005 science assessments. The 2009, 2011, and 2015 assessments were developed using the same framework, allowing the results from the three assessment years to be compared. A variety of factors made it necessary to create a new framework: the publication of National Science Education Standards1 and Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy2, advances in both science and cognitive research, the growth in national and international science assessments, advances in innovative assessment approaches, and the need to incorporate accommodations so that the widest possible range of students can be fairly assessed.
The assessment resulting from the 2009 framework started a new NAEP science trend line so results from 2009, 2011, and 2015 cannot be compared with results of previous science assessments. Whenever changes are made to a framework, efforts are made to maintain the trend lines that permit the reporting of changes in student achievement over time. If, however, the nature of the changes made to an assessment are such that the results would not be comparable to earlier assessments, a new trend line is started. See a comparison of the two frameworks.
The framework organizes science content into the following three broad areas reflecting the science curriculum students are generally exposed to across the K-12 curriculum.
Science comprises both content areas and practices, which are described below. The four science practices describe how students use their scientific knowledge by measureing what they are able to do with the science content. Although the framework distinguishes content from practice, the two are closely linked in assessment as in science.
Because of differences in curricular emphasis, the proportion of the assessment devoted to each content area and science practice varies by grade. See the amount of assessment time specified by the framework and devoted in the assessment to each of the three components for grades 4, 8, and 12 in the 2015 assessment.
Subscales based on science content (i.e., Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth and Space Sciences) are created at each grade. Subscales are not created based on science practices.
|1996–2005 Science Framework||2015 Science Framework|
|1 National Research Council (1996). National Science Education Standards. Coordinating Council for Education, National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.|
|2 American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993). Benchmarks for Science Literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.|