Test Drive a Science CEPA (Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessment)

We continue to explore the changing landscape in STEM assessment. This 5-minute video gives a whirlwind tour of our prototype Science CEPA (Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessment).


The Common Core mathematical practices and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) both focus on developing practices. Why? One editor summed it up for me beautifully 25 years ago:

Imagine a basketball team that practiced every day but never played a real game. They could get pretty good, especially if they had 10 players to simulate a game. But what if you only let them read the playbook? That’s unfortunately the way we teach science—from a textbook!

If we want to grow scientists, we have to let them play the game, or at least practice. And what happens when you practice? You make mistakes…and learn from them. That’s how you get better.

So we intentionally designed this CEPA to allow students to make mistakes and then correct them. We model the iterative nature of science in Activity 1 (Satellite Photos) and Activity 2 (Evaluate and Revise an Experiment). This directly supports a number of Science and Engineering Practices in NGSS.

One thing we have learned in our prototyping — it is essential to focus on one or two SEPs (Science and Engineering Practices). Otherwise, the instruction and embedded assessment become too attenuated. We realize there are many ways to develop a Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessment in science, and that we are presenting just one kind of solution. You may have very different considerations to offer. Your feedback is appreciated! We invite you to use the comments to join in the conversation.

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