State Policies for Science and Mathematics Assessment

A website by NORC at the University of Chicago reporting on state science and mathematics assessment policies.

NORC at the University of Chicago has developed this "State Policies for Science and Mathematics Assessment" website for annual reporting on State Science and Mathematics Assessment Policies through cooperation with the state departments of education to support the work of decision-makers about student assessments, science and mathematics educators, and education researchers.

Assessment policies are reported by state and summarized across states for:

  • Mathematics Assessments and Intended Uses, Grades 3-8, High School. In 2016-17, fourteen states used the SBAC math assessments for grades 3-8, and eight states plus D.C. used the math assessments developed with the PARCC Consortium. At the high school level, end-of-course (EOC) math assessments were required in 32 states, and comprehensive math assessments were required in 44 states. Intended uses of math assessments were reported for school accountability (all states), teacher accountability (24 states), curriculum/instruction (33), high school graduation (18 states) and college and career readiness (high school assessments). Most states also support additional math assessments provided as options for use by districts or schools. 
  • Science Assessments and Intended Uses, Elementary, Middle, High School. Almost all the states require a different science assessment instrument. Science student assessments were included in school accountability reporting in 43 states, and 24 states used science assessments in teacher accountability. End-of-course (EOC) science high school assessments were administered statewide in 22 states, and 34 states administered a statewide comprehensive high school science assessment. Intended uses were also reported by state for curriculum/instruction, college and career readiness, and high school graduation.
  • Mathematics Content Alignment. As of 2016-17, 21 states reported that the state math standards are the same as the Common Core Standards for Math, and 20 states’ math standards are similar with minor revisions in comparison to CCSS-M. State math specialists reported on the percentage of assessment points for grade 5 that focused on each of six content topics; and, the results showed most states' assessments covered the same topics but with wide variation across states. 
  • Science Content Alignment. States reported on the relationship of state science standards to the NGSS. In 16 states and DC the standards are the same, and in 13 states new science standards developed since 2013 were informed by the NGSS with only minor revisions or additions. As of 2016-17, 29 states have a specified date for new science assessments to be operational, and most plan to be in place by 2019.
  • Design of Assessments. Reporting on assessment designs included mode of administration, types of items or tasks, and state guidance on time. Mathematics: In 13 states, grades 3-8 assessments were computer-based, and 22 states had computer-based assessment with the option of paper/pencil. Computer-adaptive systems of testing, which adjust the items a student sees according to their performance, were used in 15 states in 2016-17, and 14 of these states with the Smarter Balance consortium included a performance task. Science: For elementary and middle grade assessments, 10 states used all multiple choice items, and five states had from 25 to 50 percent of points from drag/drop, fill-in blank, or short-answer items. Also, three states included extended response science items that covered up to one third of points, and four states implemented computer-adaptive science assessments.
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