MSU to help create new K-12 science assessments

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Michigan State University will share a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a system of measuring student performance for a new set of K-12 science standards.

The four-year grant was awarded to MSU, the University of Illinois at Chicago, SRI International and the Concord Consortium. The group will work together to create new assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS, a set of voluntary science guidelines created in collaboration with 26 states and released in April.

“Currently, few supports are in place to guide the successful implementation of NGSS,” said Joseph S. Krajcik, director of MSU's CREATE for STEM Institute, which aims to improve teaching and learning in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Developing new assessments is important because NGSS significantly changes the way science is taught in K-12 schools, and changes what students are expected to know and be able to do at each grade level.

The new standards are aimed at making science education more closely resemble the way scientists work and think, and are based on research about learning that demonstrates the importance of building coherent understandings over time.

MSU and its research partners will create a system for middle-school chemistry curricula, which will be piloted in classrooms in Illinois, Florida and Wisconsin. The system will address a core idea in physical science – matter and its interactions – by integrating content on the structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions and energy with two important scientific practices, constructing explanations and developing and using models.

One of the important goals of the project will be to include teachers in the design process, said Angela DeBarger, a senior research scientist at SRI International.

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