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Systems for State Science Assessment
many state science assessment systems do not adequately target these skills. Under these circumstances the requirements for alignment between standards and assessments cannot be met. States need assistance with developing valid, reliable, and cost-effective ways to include the assessment of inquiry in their science assessment systems.
Recommendation 4: To support the inclusion of assessment tasks focused on scientific inquiry and investigations in state assessment systems, the U.S. Department of Education, science educators, scientists, and educational measurement experts should help states address issues related to the development, validation, and implementation of such tasks.
NCLB requires that states include all students in their assessment systems and hold all students accountable for attaining challenging standards. Meeting this requirement has increased the importance of the accommodations that are provided to students with disabilities and those with limited English language proficiency. A previous National Research Council committee found that means for determining which accommodations are suitable under particular circumstances as well as determining that scores obtained under accommodated conditions are comparable to those obtained without accommodations are not well documented. States need help in developing policies and practices related to including these students in their assessments.
Recommendation 5: As an aid to the states in developing science assessments to meet NCLB requirements, federal funding agencies and others should sponsor research on the implications of including students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency in the science assessment system. Research is needed both on identifying appropriate accommodations and on the validity of inferences that can be drawn from test results obtained under accommodated and nonaccommodated conditions. Research is also needed to support the development of instructional and assessment models, based on learning progressions for students with severe disabilities.
BUILDING PROFESSIONAL CAPACITY
NCLB requirements place a premium on high-quality science teaching, and the committee agrees that this as an essential element in improving science achievement. There is strong evidence that good assessment practices can support student success, but teachers need at least a minimum level of assessment literacy to make effective use of assessments and assessment results. We have already suggested that states provide ongoing professional development opportunities for