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Transforming traditional assessments in the science classroom

Session 1
Kristen Brown — NYC iSchool, MfA Master Teacher, Mastery Collaborative Mentor Teacher

Four years ago, I transformed my traditional Living Environment course into a self-paced mastery class where students work at their own pace before demonstrating mastery of standards through mini-quizzes comprised of LE Regents questions. I was proud of my students’ success, but I started to question whether or not what they were “mastering” was sufficient for them to succeed in the 21st century. In concert with the NYC Mastery Collaborative, I founded a mastery team at my school where teachers from all subjects get together twice a month to talk about what “mastery” really means. After those conversations, I decided much of what I was doing in my classes did not constitute mastery of a topic. Multiple choice and short answer quiz questions alone do not assess the skills students need to succeed in the 21st century. My science team agreed that we needed to transform the way we are teaching and assessing science. We now plan to spend the next few years using the NGSS science practices as a framework to create assessments that will explicitly assess these high-leverage practices, which are critical for students to become producers, and not just consumers, of science and technology. The goal is to produce universal assessments that can be employed in any science course or content area. I would like to facilitate a conversation about how teachers can transform their assessments to address the changing needs of our graduates.

Conversational Practice

After we discuss my work with the science department, we will use the Save the Last Word for ME protocol to read and discuss this text from the World Economic Forum about what our children need to survive the changing world of work in the 21st century and how that translates into explicitly teaching and assessing the NGSS science practices. Participants will then get into small groups to discuss the elements needed to make a universal assessment for one of the eight NGSS science practice. Participants will join a Google Group to share their ideas for assessing the science practices.

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