The Next Generation Science Standards emphasize a three dimensional approach to science--one that integrates disciplinary core ideas, science & engineering practices, and the crosscutting concepts--in order to understand natural phenomena. For example, instead of being taught facts about volcanoes, learning is driven through student inquiry. Students analyze data of where volcanoes occur around the world to understand their global patterns and figure out for themselves where volcanoes are most likely to occur.
Similarly, student knowledge should be assessed in a 3-dimensional way. Instead of focusing on rote memorization of science facts, 3-D assessments evaluate student learning across all three of these dimensions. Students demonstrate understanding of scientific concepts by solving problems, engaging in argumentation, analyzing data, and developing and using models. You can think of the difference between traditional assessments and 3-D assessments as the difference between trivia (you either know the answer or you don’t) and logic puzzles (you can figure out the answer if you know how to use the clues and put them all together).
You can use these assessments to understand what your students have learned, and to help your students prepare for other more formal assessments, such as state tests. Each assessment includes documentation on the answer key showing which NGSS performance expectations are being assessed.
Which Lessons Have 3-D Assessments?
We have 3-dimensional assessments for all 5th-grade lessons! We also have 3-dimensional assessments available for each unit in 5th grade and 4th grade. We are continuing to improve and revise our assessments across all of our K-5 curriculum and will be continuing to develop these new & improved assessments for 4th grade over the next several months and will continue to roll these out in 2023.