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Editor’s Corner: Assessment—Asking the Big Questions

The Science Teacher—January 2011

Assessment is often synonymous with measurement. We use summative assessments to determine if and where a student will go to college, how much funding a state will receive, whether teachers will stay or be fired, and where the United States ranks in the world of education (29th out of 58 countries in science, between Latvia and Lithuania, according to the latest PISA) (OECD 2007). But there are larger goals, as well. Do our classes encourage students to read unassigned science texts, subscribe to science magazines, and look at science in the newspaper? Are we increasing student interest in science-related careers and preparing graduates to be informed citizens? Do students leave our classrooms more excited about science? At the end of the day, these are some of the big questions. Although it is difficult to measure these all-important outcomes—asking these questions seems a step in the right direction.
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