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Middle and High School Science Textbooks
A Standards-Based Evaluation

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Assuming a content match between the curriculum material and the key ideas, are assessment items included that match the key ideas?

Explanation. If a learning goal is not assessed, teachers and students are likely to redefine their expectations for learning science and focus their efforts only on learning goals that are assessed. So it is important that assessment items are included for each of the key ideas to be learned. If assessment is to enable teachers to find out what their students know about key ideas, it is important that students be able to respond to assessment items with key ideas alone. This means that key ideas should be sufficient for responding to the assessment (or, if other ideas are needed, they are not more sophisticated than the key ideas and have been taught earlier).

Responding to this criterion involves examining whether the material includes assessment items that (a) require understanding of the specific key ideas (as opposed to assessing only their "general topic," or requiring only logic, reading comprehension, or general intelligence skills) and (b) require no other, more sophisticated ideas that are not addressed (or claimed to be addressed) in the material.

While a material may use particular terms and details not included in a key idea to teach it, the particular details are not what should be assessed. For example, students might learn the general proposition in the key idea below by studying body plans and internal structures of earthworms, frogs, birds, and humans and then discussing how the various body plans and internal structures help these organisms find food and reproduce: "Animals and plants have a great variety of body plans and internal structures that contribute to their being able to make or find food and reproduce" (Benchmark 5A6–8#2). However, a test item that asks students to name the body parts of the earthworm or frog would not be aligned with the key idea. (A question that asks students to give examples to support the statement about "great variety" would be more to the point.)

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