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Probing Middle School Students' Understanding of Ideas About Interdependence in Living Systems Through Content-Aligned Assessment

Probing Middle School Students' Understanding of Ideas About Interdependence in Living Systems Through Content-Aligned Assessment,Kristen A. Lennon,Ge

Probing Middle School Students' Understanding of Ideas About Interdependence in Living Systems Through Content-Aligned Assessment  
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The American Association for Advancement of Science Project 2061, with funding from the National Science Foundation, is developing student assessment items for middle school science that are precisely aligned with national content standards. These distractor-driven multiple choice items, in which common student misconceptions are used as distractors, will enable educators to probe student understanding of targeted concepts and gain a better understanding of student ideas about those concepts. Each item is developed and analyzed using a procedure designed to evaluate an item's alignment with important science ideas and its overall effectiveness as an accurate measure of what students do and do not know about those ideas. During the item development process, the items are pilot tested by middle school students at schools throughout the United States. This paper presents data collected from assessment items aligned to a middle school idea related to the dependence of organisms on other organisms for food and describes how we use information gathered from the students to gain valuable insight into their ideas and cognitive abilities as well as about the quality of the assessment items themselves.
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