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Middle and High School Science Textbooks
A Standards-Based Evaluation

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Does the material include assessment tasks that require application of ideas and avoid allowing students a trivial way out, like using a formula or repeating a memorized term from the text without understanding it?

Explanation. Rather than checking whether students have memorized certain bits of information, assessment for science literacy needs to test students' understanding and use of knowledge. As noted before, science literate adults should be able to use knowledge to describe, explain, and predict real-world phenomena and to solve practical problems, to consider alternative positions on issues, and to clarify or learn more about a topic. Accordingly, assessment tasks need to engage students in describing, explaining, predicting, designing, discussing positions on issues, or summarizing what they have learned or explaining the general proposition in a key idea in their own words. This, however, does not necessarily dictate the format that the assessment would take. Assessment of students' use of knowledge could include oral and written responses, fixed response, open-ended responses, performance, or a combination of these formats.

Some of the assessment should consist of familiar tasks to judge student comprehension of what was taught, while other assessment items should pose novel tasks to judge the transfer of what has been learned. Furthermore, at least some questions or tasks should be in contexts likely to be encountered outside the classroom.

Indicators of meeting the criterion

  1. Assessment items focus on understanding of key ideas.
  2. Assessment items include both familiar and novel tasks.

Rating Scheme
Excellent: The material provides a sufficient number of assessment items that meet indicators 1 and 2.
Satisfactory: The material provides some assessment items that meet indicators 1 and 2 or sufficient assessment items that meet indicator 1.
Poor: The material provides no more than one/a few assessment items that meet indicator 1.

To judge whether there is a sufficient number of assessment items, the reviewers need to consider whether all ideas in a given key idea are adequately assessed. However, reviewers are not expected to evaluate and rate each idea separately and average the scores.

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