Formative Assessment in the 21st Century Science Classroom

I read a great article today by Karen Irving in the March 2007 edition of NSTA Reports about the importance of formative assessment in the teaching of science (aptly titled, Formative Assessment Improves Student Learning).  The article is part seven in a series inspired by the book Teaching Science in the 21st Century.  My stumbling across the article was pretty timely since, in the very short time our DESC in Action blog has been up and running, I wanted to share my absolute, favorite part of Science Connection. 

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The breadth, depth and variety of content is impressive, but the real power of Science Connection lies in the formative assessment tools built into the product.  You can go into the Assessment Manager and design a custom assessment, an assessment using your state’s standards or you can use one of the pre-made assessments across a wide range of concepts.  The you can assign the assessment to an individual, a class, multiple classes, you name it.

Here comes the really cool part.  Your students log in to Science Connection (yes, ALL students have their own accounts) and take the assessment.  They can see how well they did and so can you (by student, by class, by assessment, etc.).  And then, drum roll please…

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Beside each question, there is a link that says "view recommendations."  For each question you are provided with a series of resources in DESC that will help the student master the concept.  So, for instance, you check boxes next to a video, a reading passage and an exploration and assign those resources to your student. Now, when the student logs in again those resources will be there.  Students can access the content in class, at the library or from home.

If you haven’t checked out that part of DESC, just login and go to the Teacher Center.  If you use the STAR DE passcode (1E7C-2CAB) or any of the trial accounts, you’ll see sample data in there already.

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