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Assessing Cumulative Energy Understanding
In CLEAR, assessments play a critical role in helping students learn key science concepts cumulatively and coherently across science courses. We define cumulative learners as students who build on the ideas they have learned and maintain and refine their science knowledge by applying it in their courses and everyday lives. Today, most students are only tested on the topics they studied in the latest unit and often quite superficially; there is seldom the expectation of applying concepts learned in prior material.
We have designed new forms of assessment that document students' accumulation of knowledge and also serve as learning events. We have developed and tested construct items designed to measure students' knowledge integration abilities with a range of science topics. As learning events, various assessment opportunities are embedded as part of CLEAR curriculum activities, such as embedded notes, energy stories, and MySystem diagrams.
CLEAR assessments are connected to pre- and post-tests of energy curriculum modules, as well as year-end tests. We are developing trajectories of energy understanding from module to module and from year to year. As our ability to track and monitor student progress during instruction increases, we can establish student accomplishments based more directly on evidence generated during instruction rather than from one-shot state and national tests - many of which are often poorly aligned with standards and/or instruction.