Indicator 12

States’ use of assessments that measure the core concepts and practices of science and mathematics disciplines

Indicator 12 looks at states’ use of assessments that measure the core concepts and practices of science and mathematics disciplines.

Related DCL Awards (2): Blank (2014); Blank (2015)


Priority: Medium 

The decision to place Indicator 12 at medium priority was based on the recommendation of the advisors and other experts that it be measured in tandem with standards-aligned instructional materials (Indicator 4), which is identified as a high priority in the Monitoring Progress report.

Operational Definition

A “standards-aligned assessment” is defined as a set of tasks or items administered to students that (1) call on the same concepts and practices as the CCSS-M and NGSS science standards and (2) provide scores relative to the level of performance expectations in those standards. As was the case for instructional materials, to be fully standards-aligned, an assessment would need to cover the full content in the standards for the relevant grade level, be consistent with the performance-level expectations of those standards, and reflect the same conception of learning and instruction (e.g., the intertwining of disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts in the Science Framework).

The Smarter Balanced and PARCC Mathematics assessments were designed to be consistent with the CCSS-M standards, but an independent evaluation of the degree of alignment of those tests with the standards is still needed. For states that do not adopt CCSS-M assessments or the NGSS, data for this indicator will be more difficult to collect. For these states, analysts still could look at the extent to which their assessments do align with the content, practices, and performance expectations of the national standards. Applying this process to many different state assessments would be labor intensive, but it could provide information that is useful in comparing student assessment data across states as well as capturing Indicator 12 at a national level. Experts agreed that more work is needed before a process for measuring Indicator 12 consistent with this operational definition can be fully established.

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