Science Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade
Chapter 5 Contents
  Science Subjects Offered Up To and Including Eighth Grade



What TIMSS 1999 Countries Have Assessments And Exams in Science?

What Benchmarking Jurisdictions Have Assessments in Science?



© 2001 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)







CHAPTER 5:The Science Curriculum

What Benchmarking Jurisdictions Have Assessments in Science?

Across the United States, many states are conducting assessments based on their own content standards and are assessing whether students in their schools are meeting these standards for academic achievement. Twenty-nine states have some type of criterion-referenced science assessment aligned to state standards.(6)

While all Benchmarking states had developed or are developing state-level assessments aligned with their state curriculum in mathematics, (7) only 7 of the 13 states – Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, and Texas – had such statewide assessments in science at the middle school grades (see Exhibits 5.11 and 5.12). Assessments of state science standards were reported to be in development in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, each of which developed science standards in 2000. Science assessments in Idaho were under discussion. Connecticut and North Carolina had no statewide science assessments at the middle school grades.

All the Benchmarking states except Pennsylvania have participated in recent state science assessments as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Eleven of the 13 states participated in both 1996 and 2000, and Idaho in 2000.

Although none of the Benchmarking states reported using student performance on a science assessment as a requirement for high-school graduation, Maryland and South Carolina reported developing assessments including science that students must pass in order to graduate from high school (see Exhibit 5.13). Benchmarking states reported a range of other consequences of their science assessments for students, apart from their use as a graduation requirement. For example, Connecticut, Illinois, and Oregon reported that they affix a certificate or seal to students’ diplomas to show that they have met the performance goal on the state high school science assessment; Illinois and Oregon reported a policy of using assessment results to assist in making promotion decisions; and South Carolina planned to institute a promotion policy in 2002. As an incentive, students meeting the standards in Michigan and Missouri could receive state funds to support their academic careers through scholarship money and funds for advanced course work, respectively.

Benchmarking states also reported a range of consequences at the district or school level. For example, Massachusetts reported that additional funding was made available to low-performing schools and districts to support remediation. In Oregon and South Carolina, districts were required to provide remediation to students with low scores on the state assessments. States had the right to take over schools or districts in Maryland and Massachusetts. While consequences of assessments for schools or districts usually involved remediation activities or sanctions, Maryland also provided monetary rewards to schools that showed improvement. In Massachusetts, schools receiving recognition were eligible for an Exemplary Schools Program.

As shown in Exhibit 5.14, 10 of the 14 Benchmarking districts and consortia participated in the science assessments administered by their state. Of these, the Michigan Invitational Group and Montgomery County were in states that were revising their science assessments to align more closely with their current standards. Ohio’s Project smart Consortium was in a state administering proficiency tests that were not standards-based assessments. Miami-Dade, Rochester, and the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative were developing science assessments for 2003, 2001, and 2001, respectively. The Fremont/Lincoln/Westside Public Schools and Guilford County reported having no statewide science assessments at the eighth grade.

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6 Orlofsky, G.F. and Olson, L. (2001), “The State of the States” in Quality Counts 2001, A Better Balance: Standards, Tests, and the Tools to Succeed, Education Week, 20(17).
7 Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., Gonzalez, E.J., O’Connor, K.M., Chrostowski, S.J., Gregory, K.D., Garden, R.A., and Smith, T.A. (2001), Mathematics Benchmarking Report, TIMSS 1999 – Eighth Grade: Achievement for US States and Districts in an International Context, Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.

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