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Science Educators as Assessment Engineers: A Mixed Methods Case Study of Nebraska's Pilot Assessment Development

Sara Cooper, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Nebraska is committed to pursuing a new vision for science education based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012), that advocates for rigorous, high-quality science education for all students. Following an ambitious four year timeline, Nebraska is working to develop new assessments aligned to and designed for these rigorous, three dimensional, college and career ready standards for an operational test in spring of 2021. Driven by this ambitious timeline to develop radically new science assessments, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is in dire need of increasing science educators’ capacity to develop high quality assessment tasks. NDE leaders must identify an assessment development workshop plan to effectively prepare educators for this work. The purpose of this mixed methods case study was to (a) assess Nebraska Department of Education’s pilot assessment development workshop aimed to productively involve Nebraska science educators in the development of science assessment tasks and to (b) recommend research informed revisions to the workshop. This mixed methods case study addressed the needs of NDE leaders to define optimal processes for engaging teams of statewide science educators in the development of assessment tasks aligned to and designed for NCCRS-S. The study used a sequential, exploratory, mixed methods design allowing the quantitative data to extend the breadth of inquiry provided by the qualitative data in order to tell a more complete story of the pilot assessment development workshop. Inter- and across team analysis revealed the importance of teamwork in the development of assessment tasks. Recommendations for future assessment development workshops included: developing a system that allows participants to pre-learn tools and process; clearly describing the nature of the assessment task-development work, the work environment, and daily goals; allowing time for groups to become familiar with one another and their work styles; building-in time for peer review and external expert review; facilitating more coaching and counseling of teams during the workshop; dividing the workshop into two sections to allow participants a choice in the work that best suits their behavioral characteristics; and ensuring workshop participants represent a broad and diverse representation of student populations from across the state.

Subject Area

Education|Teacher education|Science education

Recommended Citation

Cooper, Sara, "Science Educators as Assessment Engineers: A Mixed Methods Case Study of Nebraska's Pilot Assessment Development" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI13861216.