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Designing Next Generation Assessments to Support the Teaching and Learning of Life Science

The NGSA Life Science project team is designing, developing, testing, and validating a set of three-dimensional assessment tasks and scoring rubrics aligned with NGSS Performance Expectations in middle school life science.
Photo of students working with plants and tablet in a lab

  • Our rich, technology-delivered assessments will be designed for teachers to use formatively during the course of NGSS-aligned classroom instruction to help teachers gauge their students’ progress toward the end-of-grade-band performance expectations.

  • Assessment tasks will include interactive features such as simulations, videos, tools for drawing.

  • The assessment tasks will be delivered by an online portal that collects and organizes students’ responses for teachers

Our set of exemplar tasks will address four NGSS performance expectations in middle school life science:

Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

MS-LS1-6. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

MS-LS1-7. Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an organism.

Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems

MS-LS2-3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem

The tasks will incorporate the following NGSS disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts:

Disciplinary Core Ideas Science and Engineering Practices Crosscutting concepts
  • LS1.C. Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
  • LS2.A. Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
  • LS2.B. Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
  • PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life
  • Developing and Using Models
  • Constructing explanations
  • Patterns
  • Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation
If you would like to try our life science tasks in your classroom or district, please send us a message.

The NGSA Life Science project is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation award Designing Next Generation Assessments to Support the Teaching and Learning of Life Science (Grant #4482).