The Plymouth Public Schools is committed to enhancing the academic achievement of all students at all levels. Through assessments of student performance this academic achievement can be measured. Assessment in science encompasses everything from statewide accountability tests to district benchmarks or interim tests to everyday classroom tests. In science, students are assessed with both summative and formative type assessments.
Summative assessments are given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know. Many associate summative assessments with standardized tests such as the MCAS, but in Plymouth, they are also used as part of district and classroom programs. Examples include common assessments, end-of-unit tests, and end-of-course exams.
The information gathered from summative assessment is important; however, it can only help to inform certain aspects of instruction. Because this type of assessment is spread out and typically administered after instruction, it is often used to evaluate the effectiveness of the science program, school improvement goals, and its alignment with the curriculum. It rarely provides information necessary to make adjustments during the learning process.
On the other hand, formative assessment is part of the learning process. It informs instruction while it is happening and helps staff make daily decisions around curriculum and instruction. It also informs students about their current levels of understanding.
[Source: Association for Middle-Level Education]
The Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS exams are administered to students in grades 5 and 8, as well as in high school. In high school, the majority of Plymouth students take the Biology STE MCAS exam at the completion of their sophomore year. However, the opportunity to complete an end of course assessment in Chemistry, Physics, or Technology/Engineering also exists, as it does throughout the state. It is a graduation requirement to pass one of the STE MCAS exams during high school.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shares a portion of MCAS test questions on which student results are based by accessing MCAS Question Search and the MCAS Digital Item Library.
For information about the performance of Plymouth students on the STE MCAS exams, please refer to the assessment data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The College Board's Advanced Placement Program provides unique learning experiences for students designed to help them succeed in post-secondary education. The courses are rigorous and help students improve their writing skills, sharpen their problem-solving abilities, and develop time management skills, discipline, and study habits.
Students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses are eligible to receive college credit based on end-of-course exam scores. Plymouth offers Advanced Placement science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics 1, and Physics 2. [Source: The College Board]
The National Assessment of Education Progress
The National Assessment of Education Progress science assessment presents a broad view of what America's students know and can do in science. The assessment is administered to eighth-grade students and is designed to measure students' knowledge of three broad content areas reflecting the science content students are generally exposed to across the K-12 curriculum: physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences.
In addition to science content, this assessment is also designed to measure how students use their science knowledge by measuring what they are able to do with the science content. The exam also measures student performance on four science practices: identifying science principles, using science principles, using scientific inquiry, and using technological design. [Source: Institute of Education Sciences]
Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study provides reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of U.S. 4th and 8th grade students compared to that of students in other countries. This data have been collected every four years since 1995. You can explore the data directly through the National Center for Education Statistics' online data tool, the International Data Explorer. [Source: Institute of Education Sciences]