Task Annotation Project in Science

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Three-dimensional science standards based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education raise several questions about how to monitor student progress toward those learning goals. The Task Annotation Project in Science (TAPS) was launched to provide an answer to the questions “what does it look like to ask students to demonstrate progress toward three-dimensional standards?” and “what are the most important features of high-quality science tasks?” By asking a diverse set of experts to identify concrete features of three-dimensional assessment tasks across multiple domains of science across the K-12 spectrum, this project was designed to 1) collaboratively provide concrete, annotated examples of different kinds of three-dimensional assessments, highlighting features of high-quality science assessments and opportunities for improvement, and 2) surface lessons learned from looking across grades, domains, and task purposes. 

This suite of resources includes annotated examples of assessment tasks for elementary, middle, and high school as well as a series of short resources that highlight the major takeaways across the whole project. These include:

  • Project-wide takeaways for educators, administrators, policy-makers, and assessment developers.
  • The “must-have” features of all three-dimensional science assessments.
  • Features of equitable science assessments.
  • Features of high-quality scenarios that drive three-dimensional assessments.
  • A practical definition of sense-making and its critical role in distinguishing three-dimensional assessments from more traditional science assessments.
  • Lessons-learned about how to assess science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts.
  • Implications for science assessment systems, including large-scale assessments, and recommendations for decision-makers involved in assessment design.  

Tasks by Grade Band:
Click the links below to explore the set of task annotations in each grade band:

The Task Annotation Project in Science would not have been possible without the thought leaders, evaluators, and reviewers who contributed to this work. This diverse set of researchers, developers, partners, educators, and decision-makers lent their time and expertise to conceptualize the project, evaluate the assessments, and identify lessons learned and further questions from this process.

Achieve also thanks Chevron and the Hewlett Foundation for their generous support of this work.  

Tools and Resources

This resource describes key takeaways from the Task Annotation Project in Science for educators, administrators, decision-makers, and developers. 

Science assessment tasks designed for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and similar three-dimensional standards can—and should—come in all different forms. With so many different purposes and uses of assessments, it has been tricky to identify what really sets a three-dimensional assessment apart from a traditional assessment. 

The Task Annotation Project in Science (TAPS) surfaced some features that routinely distinguish NGSS tasks from science tasks that are not designed for the NGSS. This resource describes the “must-haves” of any NGSS assessment.

How can assessments be more equitable, and do assessments—classroom-based and external—have a role in promoting equitable approaches to science teaching and learning? By examining a wide range of tasks for how diverse learners can demonstrate progress, the Task Annotation Project in Science (TAPS) surfaced key ways science assessments can help make sure all students are supported in meeting their science learning goals.

Are phenomena a “nice-to-have" engagement hook, or a “must have” feature of three-dimensional science assessments?  The Task Annotation Project in Science surfaced the significance of phenomena in science assessments, and what features define high-quality phenomena for assessments. This resource provides educators and assessment developers with recommendations for phenomena that can support all students and reveal students’ ability to sense-make using the three dimensions.    

Three-dimensional tasks require students to make sense of phenomena and problems using science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. This resource describes the lessons-learned about how tasks elicit sense-making. 

Science and Engineering Practices:
This resource describes how science and engineering practices (SEPs) can be used in science assessments and tasks. This resource identifies common misconceptions around the use of SEPs in assessments, while also providing effective and meaningful ways assessment tasks can elicit evidence of students' engagement in SEPs. 

Crosscutting Concepts:
This resource describes how assessment tasks frequently include crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and discusses which approaches are most effective for providing evidence of students’ understanding and ability to use the CCCs. 

This guide describes the implications of the Task Annotation Project in Science for decision-makers and assessment systems, including both classroom-based and external (e.g., district- and state-wide tests and systems). The guidance document includes recommendations for decision-makers and developers involved in science assessment development efforts. 

This describes the approach used for the Task Annotation Project in Science.