March 11, 2021

Designing NGSS Assessments for Young Learners

As early elementary classrooms shift to implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there has been a dearth of high-quality assessment tools to measure young learners’ progress. The Lawrence Hall of Science, in partnership with WestEd and SRI International, is seeking to change that with the release of their latest research brief. The paper introduces an approach for designing NGSS-aligned assessment tasks for the primary grades that measure how students are using science practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts to figure out and explain ideas about the natural world, while being developmentally appropriate for learners of that age. The approach builds upon the Next Generation Science Assessment design process which has been used to develop NGSS-aligned tasks for upper-elementary and middle grades classrooms. The approach for primary grades provides guidance for attending to the developmental characteristics of young learners with considerations of their emerging language and literacy development explicitly incorporated into the process. This contribution builds from previous research on the integration of science and literacy, which underlies many of the learning materials designed at The Lawrence Hall of Science.