There is growing awareness among STEM educators and education leaders of the need for science instruction in the elementary grades. As elementary classrooms make this shift, high-quality formative assessments will be essential for providing teachers with information on where students are in the process of developing proficiency in science. Especially needed are formative assessments attentive to the Next Generation Science Standards’ (NGSS) (NGSS Lead States, 2013) emphasis on scientific oral and written language and communication skills.
The Formative Assessment Bundling Literacy and Elementary Science in the NGSS (FABLES) project is developing and piloting classroom-based assessment resources with accompanying professional learning for elementary teachers. The resources are intended to support teachers in monitoring and enhancing their students’ integrated science and literacy learning.
WestEd, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, is leading a cross-institutional R&D team that includes experts from the University of California Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science and the Concord Consortium. The FABLES intervention will be comprised of a suite of innovative NGSS-aligned assessment tasks with accompanying rubrics for interpreting student performance, teacher practice guides for engaging in classroom instruction that is informed by student learning, and PL to help teachers learn about science assessment and instruction consistent with the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education and the NGSS. Currently, the resources are being developed and piloted for third classrooms.
Methodology and Intended Outcome
The project team is employing a design-based implementation research methodology that emphasizes not just the development of a product, but also a body of knowledge regarding best practices for addressing local concerns of implementation. The research and development plan entails using a design process that builds from the Next Generation Science
Assessment (NGSA) approach which has been used in prior efforts to create assessment tasks for NGSS classrooms. The NGSA approach has been modified to enable literacy and science integration for elementary classrooms.
A central outcome of the project will be assessment resources that will equip teachers with tools to understand where students are in their learning, which can then be used to guide instruction. When successfully implemented in classrooms, the tasks and rubrics will help teachers see what evidence of NGSS learning “looks like” and how to promote it.