Partnership for the Assessment of Standards-Based Science (PASS)

The Partnership for the Assessment of Standards-Based Science (PASS) is a collaboration among science educators, scientists, measurement specialists, and testing contractors, working together to develop, implement, and sustain standards-based science assessment.

Based on the efforts of the California Systemic Initiatives Assessment Collaborative (CSIAC) — a project previously funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) — PASS develops and administers standards-based science assessments, as well as related services and products, to schools, districts, science reform projects, Math and Science Partnerships (MSPs), and states throughout the nation.

PASS provides a way for educators to determine whether their students and schools are making meaningful progress toward science literacy.

Since 1996, PASS Science Assessments have been used successfully in 22 states and Puerto Rico. They are standards-based, valid and reliable, thoroughly tested, and reasonably priced. PASS assessments are available at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels.

The PASS assessments are based on thorough research and are aligned to both the NAS/NRC National Science Education Standards and to the AAAS/Project 2061 Benchmarks for Science Literacy. PASS uses a unique balance of measures — hands-on performance tasks, constructed-response investigations, open-ended questions, and enhanced multiple-choice items — to measure student progress and provide meaningful results.

All PASS items are developed by teams of teachers, scientists, science educators, and measurement specialists. This careful and inclusive development process ensures that PASS assessments are standards-based, that they are valid and reliable, and that they maintain the crucial balance among classroom practice, research, and theory.

PASS provides comprehensive Reports of Results, with data reported via the National Science Education Standards, at the school, district, and overall PASS levels.

Participants also have the option to obtain both classroom- and student-level data.

Using PASS reports, schools and districts can measure their growth from year to year against the content recommendations of national and local science standards. Results can be used to inform curriculum and instruction, to guide professional development, and to communicate program impact.

Customized Assessment

PASS contracts with states, districts, and projects to provide custom versions of the PASS Science Assessment. VT-PASS, for example, has been used as the Vermont state science assessment for grades 5, 9, and 11, meeting all the No Child Left Behind science assessment requirements.

Assessment Services

PASS provides comprehensive training and professional development services to help schools, districts, states, and science reform projects with any of their standards-based science assessment needs.

Staff help districts align local/state standards and/or standards-based science curriculum to the PASS assessment. PASS can help teachers and district personnel learn how to use assessment data to inform instruction, improve performance, and monitor growth and progress.

PASS staff also work with teachers and other district staff to create frameworks and procedures for the development of local, classroom-based assessments aligned to local and national standards.

How to Participate in PASS

Please contact Robin Montoya at 650.381.6465 or for a current administration schedule, enrollment information, and details about other products and services.

PASS-Related Projects

RISSA, Research in Standards-based Science Assessment, was an NSF-funded project under the Research on Learning and Education (ROLE) program.

During 2000–2003, RISSA worked with Systemic Initiatives (SIs) and other science education reform efforts to better measure the impact of their work and also to more effectively use assessment results to inform and improve instruction.

RISSA focused on two questions: Which assessment component (e.g., multiple-choice items, performance tasks, or open-ended questions) best measures scientific inquiry for different types of learners? And, does training in the use of data actually result in improving teachers’ instructional practice and students’ science learning?

Kathy Comfort, PASS Principal Investigator/Project Director, was the Principal Investigator for RISSA.

Another project, the PASS/CSIAC Data Study, explored achievement gap issues in science. Using 1996–2000 PASS/CSIAC assessment data, this project examined the characteristics of achievement gaps along racial, ethnic, and gender lines. Next steps include convening a panel of experts in both measurement and science education to review results, summarize findings, and suggest further research.

The PASS/CSIAC Data Study was an NSF-sponsored Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER). Kathy Comfort was the Principal Investigator/Project Director.