Brian Reiser on National Panel to Recommend Overhaul of K-12 Science Assessments

Brian Reiser on National Panel to Recommend Overhaul of K-12 Science Assessments

Brian Reiser

Professor Brian Reiser, a member of the National Research Council (NRC) expert panel that recommended a new framework for science education in the United States, now is participating on an NRC panel to recommend more effective assessment of science learning. The recommendations will be based on extensive research.

The new project, “A Framework for Assessment of Science Proficiency in K-12,” complements the K-12 science education framework, published as A Framework for K-12 Science Education. The NRC framework for science education was intended to guide state standards in K-12 science education and make major improvements in science education in the United States.

Improving assessment is another key piece in the puzzle for how to make major advances in science education. The new assessments project will recommend strategies that validly measure student proficiency in science as outlined in the framework.

A Framework for K-12 Science Education reflects a new vision for K-12 science education, encompassing a significant change in how the subject is viewed and taught. The framework identifies key scientific concepts and practices that all students should learn. Its goal is to ensure that by the end of high school all students have some appreciation of science, the ability to discuss and think critically about science-related issues, and the skills to pursue careers in science or engineering.

Similarly, the assessments committee will issue a report that includes a conceptual framework for science assessment in K-12. Recommendations will inform state and national policymakers, research organizations, assessment developers, and study sponsors about the steps needed to develop valid, reliable and fair assessments for the framework’s vision of science education.

The panel will review recent and ongoing work in science assessment to determine whether currently available techniques are sufficient. Additional research and development may be required to create an overall assessment system for science education in K-12.

The NRC assessments committee, co-chaired by James W. Pellegrino of University of Illinois–Chicago and Mark R. Wilson of University of California–Berkeley, has 17 members. The National Research Council is a nonprofit institution that provides expert advice on critical problems facing the nation. The organization, part of the National Academies, issues reports that help to shape policies and advance science in the United States.

A professor of learning sciences in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University, Reiser does research to examine how to make scientific practices meaningful and effective for classroom teachers and students. He leads the Scientific Practices project to develop an empirically based learning progression for scientific practices. Reiser is also on the leadership team for IQWST (Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology), a collaboration with the University of Michigan developing a middle school project-based science curriculum, and led the BGuILE (Biology Guided Inquiry Learning Environments) project developing software tools for supporting students in analyzing biological data.

A free copy of A Framework for K-12 Science Education is available for download here. The Next Generation Science Standards are being developed based on the framework. The nonprofit educational organization Achieve is coordinating the development of these science standards, which may be voluntarily adopted by states to guide science education in public schools. The new standards would replace standards created more than a decade ago.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/13/12