FOSS is an ongoing research project dedicated to improving the learning and teaching of science. Assessment is a major research focus of the FOSS staff. Below we list two of our larger projects, supported by the National Science Foundation, which explored assessment through FOSS.
Assessing Science Knowledge (ASK) from the Lawrence Hall of Science (the Hall), University of California, Berkeley, was a four-year project (beginning in April 2003) designed to define, field test, and validate effective assessment tools and techniques to be used by grade 3–6 classroom teachers to assess, guide, and confirm student learning in science. The assessments were conceptualized, developed, and refined using one exemplary science-education program, the Full Option Science System (FOSS). Curriculum developers/researchers at the Hall collaborated with eight national test centers, comprised of hundreds of teachers and thousands of students, and assessment researchers from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Education and SRI International to validate new classroom assessments based on NSES and AAAS Benchmarks. Guided by a synthesis of current cognitive theory and measurement principles, the assessment tools, procedures, and item banks developed by ASK provided valid and fair inferences about student achievement, and have the potential to affect the design and implementation of all research-based elementary science programs.
Formative Assessment for Science through Technology (FAST) was a three-year project to research, develop, and evaluate the effectiveness of a technology-based, formative-assessment system. The assessment system was designed to collect classroom observational data, improve elementary teachers' analysis of written student work, and provide diagnostic suggestions to increase students' understanding of science concepts and processes. The system links sets of instructional maps that represent key concepts and the typical development in student thinking about specific units of study. These maps provide teachers (grades 3–6) with a window into students' conceptual development. Software for handheld and desktop computers will enable teachers to collect, organize, and analyze data to determine next-step instructional decisions and provide detailed reports about student achievement.