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Discussion: Student assessment: Identifying and measuring impacts on students

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posted by: Maren Reeder on May 3, 1999 at 5:16PM
subject: Who we are, etc.
My name is Maren Reeder and I work at the Merck Institute for Science
Education. Established in 1993, the Institute has formed partnerships with
four school districts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with the goal of
improving student performance and participation in science in grades K-8.
We work with teachers, administrators, parents, and the community to support
standards-based teaching and learning.

A major component of our work is professional development programs for
teachers within our partnership districts. Our evaluators, the Consortium
for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), have been collecting data in the
form of teacher surveys, observations, interviews, and student performance
on the open-ended science portion of the SAT9 in grades 5 and 7. This past
year CPRE started to correlate the amount of professional development a
teacher has had to his/her students' performance on the SAT9.

Our major work in assessment has been a three-year project with Ted
Chittenden at ETS. The Assessment Project had its roots in the
Partnership's Leader Teacher Institute, a professional development program
designed to deepen teachers' science knowledge, strengthen their teaching
practice and build their leadership skills. Interests in assessment
practices aligned with standards-based teaching strategies led to the
project's plans to explore alternatives and to develop classroom-based
strategies. The project was intended as a professional development
opportunity for participating teachers, through their involvement in
developing and evaluating assessment methods in science and mathematics.
This work has produced binders of informal assessment tasks that are
currently shared across the four districts.

In addition, we have been working with our partnership districts to develop
a Partnership-wide assessment plan with the goal of providing a more
comprehensive picture of student performance in science.

As far as questions, we have also struggled with how to assess both concepts
and process skills (Mack McCary's message). In addition, we are struggling
with trying to determine what each assesment instrument is really measuring
and what it really tells us about teaching and learning and the quality of
the science program.

Maren K. Reeder
Merck Institute for Science Education
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