As part of its ongoing effort to provide states with high-quality science assessment tools, New Meridian is releasing a universal framework states can use to review and evaluate test items for science assessments.

The New Meridian Framework for Quality Review of NGSS Science Assessment Items, based on well-known industry research, walks states through how to evaluate science assessment content, placing emphasis on items that promote equity and inclusion. It explains the critical foundations for developing high-quality test content, how to perform item- and task-level analysis, and the best practices for implementing a review.

The result is a document that provides solid guidance to educators charged with writing or reviewing science assessment content. For states working to align education standards with the Framework for K-12 Science Education or Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the framework is a valuable resource.

We all know that the content required for high-quality science assessment is difficult to produce. The framework offers states a universal resource to evaluate content, which is the first step toward improvement.

The framework follows the launch of the New Meridian Science Exchange, which provides states with simple and cost-effective access to high-quality, NGSS-aligned test items. States can withdraw items from the bank to build assessments and contribute items to gain licensing revenue.

“As our education system evolves in a post-pandemic world, science assessment cannot be left behind,” said Arthur VanderVeen, CEO at New Meridian. “We are creating tools designed to increase the resources and options available to states, so they can build assessment systems that suit our new environment.”

Next-Generation Framework

Next Generation Science Standards were created by a consortium of states to ensure quality science education. They are based on what is known as three-dimensional (3D) learning, meaning there are three educational pillars that underpin the standards: science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts (the ideas that apply across all of science) and disciplinary core ideas.

More than 40 states have now adopted Next Generation Science Standards or have standards influenced by the Framework for K-12 Science Education, the foundation for NGSS. Many states have invested a great deal of money and time in that effort, changing curricula and training staff. Assessment, however, often presents a challenge because creating assessments that evaluate 3D science learning are costly and time consuming to produce.

The New Meridian Science Exchange is designed to provide states with a unique resource for science assessment. The items in the bank meet federal requirements, provide unparalleled depth and scope, and yield the highest quality data to measure student knowledge. All are reviewed for fairness, bias, sensitivity, multi-dimensional performance, cognitive complexity and technical quality. The items are operationally ready and New Meridian makes participation in the exchange simple and secure.

The New Meridian Framework for Quality Review of NGSS Science Assessment Items helps states evaluate their content, whether or not they choose to participate in the Science Exchange. The framework is based on well-known industry research, including Science Assessment Task Screening Tools and Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards.

“States need a rigorous way to evaluate science content against the Next Generation Science Standards as they build their assessment systems,” said James Pellegrino, a Professor of Psychology and Learning Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a lifetime National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences. “This framework is a serious contribution to execution of a challenging process. It can help educators gain ground in pursuing this important work.”

The framework identifies the features of high-quality, 3D science assessment, which states can apply as they develop their own large-scale assessment systems.

“The conversation over equitable science assessment is really just beginning,” Lazzaro said. “Our goal in writing the framework was to establish a minimum threshold: the floor, not the ceiling. We look forward to updating and enhancing criteria for equitable assessments as design processes and expectations in the field evolve.”