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of the matierals written by Derek Bell, Vice Principal of Bishop
28 December 2001, page 19
is an essential part of the teaching and learning process and
is an integral element in the dialogue between teachers and their
pupils. Both parties, for different reasons, have an interest
in monitoring the progress that is being made in developing the
knowledge, skills and understanding in particular concept areas.
The wide-ranging and often controversial debate on how pupils'
progress can and should be assessed, however, does not provide
direct support for teachers. The Science Assessment Series 1 and
2 materials have been produced, as the authors say, " in response
to a specific need identified by teachers [who] asked for a means
of checking children's understanding of the science taught at
any point during primary and secondary education.
authors have used their considerable expertise in assessment and
expertise in test design to produce materials which are clear,
easy to use and, by reference to standardised scores, can be related
to levels of attainment in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and
the tests are paper-based they address assessment of experimental
and investigative science as well as covering science knowledge,
and conceptual understanding.
most questions and answers are unambiguous, it is almost inevitable
that one or two could lead to reinforcing misconceptions of the
science being covered. One, the answer to the bluebell question
in Series 1, is particularly inaccurate and misleading.
practical advice is provided on how to use the materials and on
ways of interpreting the results to meet the variety of demands
on teachers who have to make judgements about the progress of
individual children and meet the wider demands of school targets.
The text does advise some caution when interpreting the outcomes
of the individual tests.
is no doubt these materials will be widely used by many teachers,
but I hope that the tests are not used as the sole instrument
of assessment because the whole process is much more complex.
There is also no doubt that the development and publication of
materials such as these will provide further grounds for continuing
the debate about how pupils' knowledge, skills and conceptual
understanding of science should be assessed.