Developing NGSS Aligned Performance
Based Tasks – A State’s Perspective
Building Capacity for State Science Education Conference
June 20, 2014
Denver, Colorado
Peter J. McLaren
Science and Technology Specialist
Rhode Island Department of Education
Council of State Science
New Definition of Competence
• The NRC Science Framework & NGSS have
proposed descriptions of student competence as
being the intersection of knowledge involving:
important science and engineering practices
core disciplinary ideas,
and crosscutting concepts with
performance expectations representing the intersection of the three.
• Both the Framework and the NGSS view competence
as something that develops over time & increases in
sophistication and power as the product of coherent
curriculum & instruction
(What Does the Framework Say)
Four key elements of the Framework’s vision that will likely require
significant change in most science classrooms
1. A focus on developing students’ understanding of a limited set of
core ideas in the disciplines and a set of crosscutting concepts that
connects them
2. Emphasis on how the core ideas develop over time as students’
progress through the K-12 system and how students make
connection between ideas from different disciplines
3. A definition of learning as engagement in the use of scientific and
engineering practices to develop, investigate, and use scientific
knowledge; and
4. An assertion that science and engineering learning for all students
will require providing the requisite resources and more inclusive and
motivating approaches to instruction and assessment, with specific
attention to the needs of disadvantaged students
Assessment Purposes
An Effective Assessment System Should
Include a Variety of Types of Internal and External
Internal Assessments
• Also known as classroom
• Given during or closely
following an instructional
• May include teacher
interactions, observations,
student products resulting
directly from ongoing
instruction, quizzes closely
tied to instructional
External Assessments
• Designed by districts,
states, countries, or
international bodies
• Used to audit or monitor
• More distant in time from
• May be based upon content
and skills defined in state
and national standards but
they do not reflect the
specific content covered in
any particular classroom
Assessment Purposes
• Formative
o Occur during course of instruction
o Identify students’ strengths and weaknesses
o Assist educators in planning subsequent instruction
o Assist students in guiding their own learning by evaluating and
revisiing their own work
o Foster students sense of autonomy and responsibility for their
Andrade and Cizek, 2010
Assessment Purposes
• Summative
o May be administered at the end of a unit of instruction
o Designed to provide evidence of achievement
o Used in decision making (assigning grades, promotion or
retention, classifying test takers according to defined
performance categories such as “basic, “proficient” and
Andrade and Cizek, 2010
Chapter 4 - Developing Assessments for the
Next Generation Science Standards
Characteristics of NGSS-Aligned Assessments
• Measuring the three-dimensional science learning called for in
the framework and the NGSS requires assessment tasks that
examine students’ performance of scientific and engineering
practices in the context of disciplinary core ideas and
crosscutting concepts
• To adequately cover the three dimensions, assessment tasks will
generally need to contain multiple components (e.g.; a set of
interrelated questions)
• It may be useful to focus on individual practices, core ideas, or
crosscutting concepts in the various components of inferences
about students’ three-dimensional science learning as described
in a given performance expectation
• The NGSS require that assessment tasks be designed so that they
can accurately locate students along a sequence of
progressively more complex understandings of a core idea and
successfully more sophisticated applications of practices and
crosscutting concepts. (Conclusion 2-2; NRC)
Conclusion 4-1
Tasks designed to assess the PEs in the NGSS will need to
have the following characteristics:
• Multiple components that reflect the connected use of
different scientific practices in the context of interconnected
disciplinary ideas and crosscutting concepts
• Reflect progressive nature of learning by providing information
about where students fall on a continuum between expected
and ending points in a given unit or grade; and
• An interpretive system for evaluating a range of student
products that is specific enough to be useful for helping
teachers understand the range of student responses and that
provides tools to help them decide on the next steps of
Conclusion 4-2
To develop the skills and dispositions to use SEPs
needed to further their learning and to solve
problems, students need to:
Use multiple practices in developing a particular core idea
Apply each practice in the context of multiple core ideas
Effective use of practices often require that they be used in
concert with one another (support explanation with
argument, use mathematics with data)
Conclusion 4-3
It is possible to design assessment tasks and scoring
rubrics that assess three-dimensional science learning
• These tasks provide evidence that informs teachers and
students of the strengths and weaknesses of a student’s current
• The tasks can guide further instruction (formative) and student
learning and can also be used to evaluate students’ learning
Conclusion 4-4 Assessments of three-dimensional
learning are challenging to design, implement, and
properly interpret
• Teachers will need extensive professional development to
successfully incorporate this type of assessment into their
What Are We Trying To Do In Rhode Island?
Building a Strong Foundation
• Designed as a program to respond to the needs expressed
around standards-based curriculum, instruction, and
assessment statewide
• Building a Strong Foundation (BSF) began as the Mathematics
Science Partnerships (MSP) Grant with cohorts in mathematics
and in science,
• expanded through use of Race to the Top funds.
• It seeks to increase instructional coherence at all levels of the
system by aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to
each other and to the state standards
• 8 districts
Project Goal
• Develop more rigorous science curricula aligned with
challenging Next Generation Science Standards
Rhode Island Interim Assessments
• The primary purpose of the interim assessments is for instructional
planning and monitoring purposes.
• developed under the Race to the Top initiative
• will enable districts, schools, and teachers to use and create
locally managed interim assessments
• Item bank of MC, CR, SA and Performance Tasks in grade 3 - 12.
• delivered primarily online,
• provide rapid turnaround of student results, so that instruction can
be changed in real time
Overall Performance Task Design –
Keep It Simple!
• Everything gets built from the standard(s) out
• Students participating in the performance task should not see this
as an assessment…they should see it as part of their instruction.
• One task per grade (3-12)
1. Provide example of how the NGSS can be assessed threedimensionally
2. Provide a model for development at the state and classroom
RIIA Performance Tasks
Build from the standard out
• Select tasks from the Units of Study from BSF work
• Identify driving questions from the Unit of Study
• Utilize the concepts identified within the driving question of the Unit of
Study to build the student PT.
• Build task in three parts (formative, formative, summative)
• All tasks will have summative assessment as the culminating portion
The task as a whole should provide a scaffolding towards the summative with
the prior components of the task providing the teacher formative assessment
Modeling Chemical Compounds
(7th Grade Performance Task)
MS-PS1-1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of
simple molecules and extended structures. [Clarification Statement:
Emphasis is on developing models of molecules that vary in complexity.
Examples of simple molecules could include ammonia and methanol. Examples
of extended structures could include sodium chloride or diamonds. Examples of
molecular-level models could include drawings, 3D ball and stick structures, or
computer representations showing different molecules with different types of
atoms.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include valence electrons
and bonding energy, discussing the ionic nature of subunits of complex
structures, or a complete depiction of all individual atoms in a complex
molecule or extended structure.]
Driving question 1 (from Grade 7 Unit 1 – Structure and Properties
of Matter)
How can models be used to describe the atomic composition of
simple molecules and extended structures?
Substances are made from different types of
- Atoms are the basic units of matter
Substances combine with one another in various
-Molecules are two or more atoms joined
Atoms form molecules that range in size from
two to thousands of atoms.
-Molecules can be simple or very complex
Solids may be formed from molecules, or they
may be extended structures with repeating
subunits (e.g., crystals).
Solids may be formed from molecules, or they
may be extended structures with repeating
subunits (e.g., crystals).
-Repeating subunits form patterns
-Diamonds and sodium chloride are
composed of repeating subunits
Develop a model of a simple molecule
Use model of the simple molecule to describe
the atomic composition
Develop a model of an extended structure
Use model of the extended structure to describe
the repeating subunits
Task is presented in three parts:
• Part 1: Engagement - Students will use the process of
evaporation to separate an impure substance (salt water) into
its pure components (salt and water). Students will study the
atomic structures of the components of salt water by using
chemical formulas to construct and sketch their molecular
• Part 2: Investigation - Student will continue to investigate the
molecular structure of other compounds by sketching and
making additional models based on their structural formulas.
They will examine the process of crystallization by evaporation
through the use of a process model to illustrate how salt crystals
form and grow. Students will then create a second model that
shows how salt crystals can grow.
• Part 3: Application: Students will review and analyze the
information in Parts 1 and 2 to construct an explanation for the
following question:
Teacher Guidance Document
• The goal of the TG is to provide guidance for the teacher but not a scripted
• We want support the teacher in the task administration but not limit their natural
interaction in terms of instruction with students.
Table of Contents
Background from the Framework for K-12 Science Education (Framework)
and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
(i) Framework:
(a) Disciplinary Core Idea
(b) Progression for Practice
(c) Crosscutting Concepts
(ii) Targeted Next Generation Science Standards:
Performance Expectations
(iii) Common Core State Standards Connections
(vi) Associated K-12 NECAP Assessment Target
The Performance Task:
(i) Task Description
(ii) Time Allotment
(iii) Key Vocabulary
Teacher Guidance in Task Administration:
(i) Part 1: Engagement
(ii) Part 2: Investigation
Appendix A: Scoring Guides
Appendix B: Word Bank
Appendix C: Comprehensive Task Materials Checklist
Teacher Guidance Document
• TG is basically be a copy of the student PT but in a separate cell the pertinent
guidance at each stage of the PT.
• For every PT the TG would have:
o background from the framework
o DCI progressions, SEPs, CCCs, and PEs as standard opening pages within each
o TG for the PT as a two-celled document with the student PT detailed the left
column as the student would see it and in the right column have correlated
and direct guidance for the teacher (as shown in the example above).
Teacher Guidance Document
What the Students Will Do
In this area will be the student PT
 This would be copy and paste of
what the student “sees” in their
performance task
What the Teacher Will Do
In this area the teacher guidance to
implement the student PT is noted
side-by-side so the teacher will have
an awareness of:
 Formative question probes to
 Prompts to distribute materials
(i.e. worksheets, equipment, etc.)
 Suggestions of what to look for in
terms of student understanding
and/or misconceptions
Note: The summative component of
the task would have rubrics for the
teacher to score the student work with
Let’s Look At The Task
Lessons Learned from our Experience
• Do not assume that assessment developers
understand the NGSS
• Designing a performance task is a very time
consuming process
• Never forget your experience as a teacher
• Considerations for equity (materials, access, etc.)
• Allow freedom for teacher innovation
Resources and Contact
• Building A Strong Foundation
o http://www.ride.ri.gov/InstructionAssessment/InstructionalReso
• Charles A. Dana Center
o http://www.utdanacenter.org/
o User: Rhode
o Pass: Island
• Peter McLaren
o [email protected]
o 401-222-8454

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