The science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will place a greater emphasis on scientific content and facts, as opposed to the conducting of investigations, as the result of a new blueprint for the exam approved this month.
The revamped framework, or outline for science content on NAEP, will increase the proportion of questions focused on factual scientific knowledge and application to 60 percent, up from 45 percent now. The National Assessment Governing Board, the federal panel that sets NAEP policy, approved the framework Nov. 18.
Once a new science test is designed to match the framework, students in the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades will begin taking it in 2009. The current framework has been in place since 1996. For the first time, the new science test also will assess students on technological design, generally defined as the connections between science and technology, engineering, and real-world applications. Some advocates had opposed including that concept on the exam, fearing it would leave less room for the testing of core scientific principles.
The new test also covers the topic of evolution, but makes no mention of supposed alternatives to it.