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Looking for New Ways to Assess Science Units: Summative Assessments

Kelly Watson 2nd Grade Teacher from North Dakota

Hi, my name is Kelly Watson and I teach 2nd grade. Science is one of my favorite subjects and I enjoy teaching it. We use the Foss learning kits and my students really enjoy the hands on experiments and activities. I feel that there are many types of formative assessments to do throughout the unit, however my team and I have struggled with coming up with a way to assess the students at the end of the unit. What are some summative assessments you have used in science and/or assessments you have used with the Foss kits if you use them in your classroom? Our units we work on throughout the year are plants, solids and liquids and rocks.

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Learning Specialist: Technology for Stratford Hall

I teach middle school, using

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I teach middle school, using the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program. The best things about the IB MYP, in my opinion, are that the assessment is broken into categories, which makes it easier to target a specific skill, and that there is a strong focus on student designed labs.

What kind of experiments can 2nd grade students design? Can they find ways to create a hypothesis (different kinds of rocks of similar size have different weights) and then determine if the answer to their question is right?

4th grade teacher from Ada, MN

Summative Assessments

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I teach 4th grade and I probably have the opposite problem. I don't have a Foss kit but a curriculum series with the summative chapter assessments. I have to make up the guides for activities and the formative assessments to check student understanding. I have revised all of my summative assessments as well in order to make questions and tasks clearer. I haven't had my students design their own experiments but we work on writing hypothsises for each experiment we do. I feel like my experiments are lacking in the real-world application and think that improving this would lead to more understanding. My curriculum is weak in incorporating this area. Are there are good websites that have good activities?

Dean: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Midrand Graduate Institute

Assessment is a process which

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Assessment is a process and not just a once off activity. assessment is also a reflection of our teaching and the methodology use to transfer knowledge, skills and attitude. The first step is to ensure that the learning outcomes is clearly defined. The student need to know what he or she is to achieve and be able to do when they complete the respective module or programme and all the assessments need to be complementary to ensure that we provide support to the learner in achieving the outcomes. the formative assessment is a key factor which need to provide the direction and the framework for the summative assesment. The following principles should be used to ensure the assessment is executed on the right level for the student to acheive the set objectives/outcomes of the programme:

1. Assessment Criteria
Criteria for assessing achievement should be clear
2. Assessment Gap
The method of gathering information on the learners' performance should be appropriate to the task and appropriate to the subject discipline;
3. Fairness
Assessment should be fair: that is, not advantage or disadvantage any learner . Stating outcomes and assessment criteria explicitly and transparently ensures fairness.
4. Validity
The assignment or examination must be valid. It measures what it intends to measure.
5. Reliability
Assessment should be reliable; produce the same results when particular learners are tested again on the same test in a similar context. Value judgements (such as passing or failing grades) should be as objective as possible.
6. Practicality
Good assessment is practicable, not too difficult or expensive to implement. Good assessment practice should be cost effective; Quantity and type of assessment should allow lecturers to achieve reliable results in a reasonable period of time. 
7. Cognitive Complexity
At university level, the assessment should have adequate cognitive complexity to assess higher levels of thinking. Assessment criteria should therefore include level descriptors.

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