Overview of Science Forward Exam - January 2019
State Science Assessment Details - Forward Exam
The state's new Forward Exam in science began in spring of 2019. The 4th grade exam has contexts aligning to the new Wisconsin Standards for Science (WSS) at 4th grade and the NGSS 4th grade standards (pg. 22-26). The 8th grade exam aligns to the topics of the 6th through 8th grade WSS as well as the NGSS (pg. 33-63). These contexts include engineering design standards and engineering and society standards (ETS1 and ETS2), as found in the WSS and NGSS. Notably, the tests focus on content understanding linked to work with science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts as detailed in the WSS and the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education. Test items are DOK 2 or 3; there will arguably be no DOK 1 items on these exams.
The Forward Exam Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) give a good sense of the types of skills and understanding students will need at each performance level:
The High School state assessment will continue to be the ACT.
The Forward Exam data is reported out on new categories based on the Wisconsin Standards for Science and reflective of the three dimensions detailed in the NRC Framework and NGSS: disciplinary core ideas (content), science and engineering practices (ways of doing science), and crosscutting concepts (ways of thinking). These reporting categories will focus on three-dimensional sense-making across the four main disciplines of the WSS:
- Students can use science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and life science content understanding to make sense of phenomena and solve problems.
- Students can use science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and physical sciences content understanding to make sense of phenomena and solve problems.
- Students can use science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and earth and space sciences content understanding to make sense of phenomena and solve problems.
- Students can use an understanding of engineering design and the connections of engineering, technology, and applications of science in society to make sense of phenomena and solve problems.
- DPI Forward Exam resource website
- One page overview of the specifications for the new Forward Exam (draft)
- Online sample items for science are now available from DRC - these samples use the full, online assessment platform. Select grade 4 or grade 8 science.
- 4th grade pdf set of sample items from DRC
- 8th grade pdf set of sample items from DRC
- As you'll see in the above examples, new sets of questions will include a multi-paragraph reading in a left-hand column to provide students background knowledge. This reading is not meant to be essential, but to even the playing field for students not familiar with a particular context. In a right-side column students will go through 3 to 5 questions related to this context. These questions will relate to content, practices, and ways of thinking in science. The items will have various formats - rarely a simple multiple choice.
- Michigan, which also uses DRC as their assessment vendor, has released sample test items that are similar to what we have in Wisconsin (MI adopted the NGSS). You can view their 5th and 8th grade examples through their "Online Tools Training" website.
- DPI ACT resources site
- Example questions from the Aspire Exam - click on the "science" link to science items
- Example science questions from the ACT - example online items from ACT
- The ACT College and Career Readiness Standards in Science - details the skills students need to reach ACT benchmarks.
- A Wisconsin group led by Jo Miller of CESA 8 created a draft alignment document connecting NGSS and ACT CCR
- NGSS Appendix C - details how NGSS supports college and career readiness and relates that to the ACT