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Education

Delaware schools adopting new annual science test

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Delaware Public Media
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Delaware educators want to better evaluate students’ understanding of science topics, so they’re adopting a new annual test.

Previous science assessments used multiple choice questions to measure progress. But the Delaware Department of Education believes this method is flawed.

Delaware Chief Academic Officer Michael Watson said the updated test will evaluate how students are doing in the classroom.

"These are open-ended constructed response answers where kids are actually doing science and learning about science and reporting on science, so that’s very different than the way states have been assessing science in the past," Watson said.

The test aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards - a new standard for concepts students need to know by the end of each grade level.

The new science assessment will be given to grades 3 through 10, and contains three parts: Each unit will be followed by a quiz at the discretion of the individual teacher. There is also an end of unit test distributed to each grade. The third part is a performance task, which is only required for federal accountability grades, including 5, 8 and 10, replacing Delaware's Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) Science exam.

 

Alison May, the public information officer for the Delaware Department of Education, said the performance task is a deeper, multi-step problem that requires students to show their work.
 

Watson said the Department of Education released an RFP to reach out to companies that can create an innovative, progressive test for students.

 

They plan on doing a trial run in the 2017-2018 school year.

 

The test will be fully operational by the 2018-2019 school year.

 

Ed. Note:  This story was edited to clarify the three parts of science assessment and that the third part, a performance task, will only be distributed to federal accountability grades (5, 8, and 10).