Science Process Assessments for Elementary and Middle School Students are easy-to-administer paper/pencil tests designed to measure the following 13 science process skills, as identified in A Recommended Science Process Skills Competency Continuum for Grades K-8:
7. Using Space/Time Relations
8. Defining Operationally
9. Formulating Hypotheses
11. Recognizing Variables
12. Interpreting Data
13. Formulating Models
In a pencil/paper, multiple-choice format, test items engage students in problem-solving situations which require them to apply an appropriate process skill to answer each question. In a large or small group setting, tests can be administered to students in a 40-50 minute class session. Most often, teachers use "scantron" answer sheets for students to record their responses. Scantron sheets are then scored accordingly, providing teachers with the results of the test administration as well as preparing them to plan their instruction in science.
The Science Process Assessment for Elementary Students was developed in 1986 and revised in 1995. It yields a reliability coefficient of .82 and has been used with students in grades three, four and five. The Science Process Assessment for Middle School Students was developed in 1994 and yields a reliability coefficient of .88. This test has been used with students in grades six, seven and eight.
The Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development at Stanford University used the Science Process Assessment for Elementary Students to test the process skills of approximately 5000 students in 37 inner-city schools. Using a pre/post assessment format, results from the Far West Lab study demonstrated the validity of this test by providing data that it successfully measured achievement of "an array of scientific reasoning skills of fourth and fifth grade students."
The Science Process Assessments for Elementary and Middle School Students have been administered to thousands of students throughout the United States. It has been used in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Evidence from the data collected has demonstrated that both tests yield high reliability coefficients and are considered to be valid assessment tools. Also, both assessments have been used by United States Department of Defense Schools within school science programs in Italy, Belgium, and Germany. Most recently, the University of Pretoria in South Africa is piloting the use of the Middle School Test as a means to identify students who demonstrate strength in science and technology, leading to a possible career in engineering.
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