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Secondary Science

Task 3: Assessment Commentary

TASK 3: ASSESSMENT COMMENTARY


Respond to the prompts below (no more than 10 single-spaced pages, including prompts) by typing your responses within
the brackets following each prompt. Do not delete or alter the prompts. Commentary pages exceeding the maximum will not be
scored. Attach the assessment you used to evaluate student performance (no more than 5 additional pages) to the end of this
file. If you submit feedback as a video or audio clip and your comments to focus students cannot be clearly heard, attach
transcriptions of your comments (no more than 2 additional pages) to the end of this file. These pages do not count toward
your page total.

1. Analyzing Student Learning


a. Identify the specific learning objectives and standards measured by the assessment you
chose for analysis.
[ The standards students were trying to meet for this test were:
S.9-12.LS.8-Understand and apply knowledge of biological evolution:
Species evolve over time.
Evolution is consequence of: population potential, genetic variability, finite resources and
environmental selection.
S.9-12.LS.9-Understand and apply knowledge of biological evolution:
Natural selection scientifically explains the fossil record.
Natural selection explains molecular similarity of diverse species.
Other standards were included in the test, but these four are displayed in the student work Im
submitting. ]
b. Provide a graphic (table or chart) or narrative that summarizes student learning for your
whole class. Be sure to summarize student learning for all evaluation criteria submitted
in Task 3, Part D.
[ For each standard, students are given a score ranging between one and four. A one is given
when there is little to no understanding of the content, a two is considered developing, a three
is considered to show competency, and a four is mastery of the content. Students are allowed
to retake the test in order to show competency, and so some of the scores included in my chart
were updated since the original test.
S.9-12.LS8-a
4
3.5
1.5
2
3.5
4
3
3.5
3
Average: 3.1

S.9-12.LS8-b
3
3
2.5
3
3.5
3.5
3.5
2.5
3
Average: 3.1

S.9-12.LS9-a
3.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
2.5
3.5
2.5
2
1
Average: 2.5

S.9-12.LS8-b
3.5
1.5
2
4
2.5
4
2.5
2.5
1.5
Average: 2.7

]
c. Use evidence found in the 3 student work samples and the whole class summary to
analyze the patterns of learning for the whole class and differences for groups or
individual learners relative to

! conceptual understanding,
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Secondary Science
Task 3: Assessment Commentary

! use of scientific practices during inquiry, AND


! evidence-based argument about a scientific phenomenon.
Consider what students understand and do well, and where they continue to struggle (e.g.,
common errors, confusions, need for greater challenge).

[The average for the first two standards is satisfactory, but the averages for the second two
standards are a little below satisfactory. So overall, my students are considered to be
competent or close to competency for the above standards.
Even though students were close to competency for the standards above, what has become
evident to me in assessing students understanding is that most of the time, when the
assessment is based on conceptual understanding (and not on a skill or something that requires
rote memorization), students struggle to display their understanding. Many students who are
considered average in intellect and achievement were able to express the big ideas for each
standard, but had difficulty expressing a deeper understanding. They often left out details, or
relied on examples to explain their understanding.
The student that has an IEP had a different struggle. It sometimes seemed difficult for him to
sort through all the information in order to get the big idea, and therefore his answers tend to
be heavily reliant on the language used in the question and he wrote very little for each
question. For example, for the substandard LS9-b, question 2 says, Use natural selection to
explain why related organisms have DNA in common. His response stated, Because they are
in the same species and are related. His scope of understanding was limited to organisms that
are part of the same species, when in reality, many different species are related to one another.
In addition, he used the phrase are related, which is taken directly from the question.
Students used scientific practices most clearly when answering question eight on substandard
LS9-b. It asks, Predict what would happen to an insect species that blends in with green
leaves when leaves change color in the Fall. Students had to analyze the scenario and decide,
based on their understanding of evolution, what could happen to the species. Scientists use the
same analyzing skills, and the inquiry aspect could be explored further by researching what
actually happens for a species like this. There could be modern-day or historical examples to
draw from.
Students were asked in substandard LS9-a to discuss the connections between the fossil
record, radioactive dating, and natural selection. By using the evidence found in the fossil
record, and in radioactive dating, we can find support for natural selection over long amounts of
time. This allowed students to make an evidence-based argument about a scientific
phenomenon. ]
2. Feedback to Guide Further Learning
Refer to specific evidence of submitted feedback to support your explanations.
a. In what form did you submit your evidence of feedback for the 3 focus students? (Delete
choices that do not apply.)

! Written directly on work samples or in a separate document;


! In audio files; or
! In a video clip from the Instruction task (provide a time-stamp reference) or in a separate
video clip
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Secondary Science
Task 3: Assessment Commentary

b. Explain how feedback provided to the 3 focus students addresses their individual
strengths and needs relative to the standards and objectives measured.
[ I provided written feedback directly on the test. I discussed student responses to tell students
when they made a relevant connection and when other ideas needed to be included. This
allowed me to focus on the strengths of student responses and subsequently their needed
improvements. For example, for the last student example included, I wrote feedback on
substandard LS8-b, number 8 stating that her explanation was very detailed, and she could add
other possible adaptations. I also used arrows a lot to show which part of their response Im
critiquing. An example of this can be found on the second students answer for the same
question (LS8-b, number 8); she stated the species would change colors, and I drew an arrow
to my comment, which states: needs to specify this happens over generations. ]
c. How will you support students to apply the feedback to guide improvement, either within
the learning segment or at a later time?
[ If the class average had been lower, I would have more seriously considered re-teaching some
of the content. On an individual basis, however, students are able to use the feedback to help
them improve upon their answers by coming in to review the content included on the standard.
They are able to retake individual standards, so many students will come in and check out their
test to use it for studying before doing the retake test. Additionally, knowing that students
struggle to take tests with so many open-ended questions, I might consider including more
multiple-choice questions or more fill-in-the-blank questions. Or I might consider giving them
more opportunities to practice writing in this way before the test, and having more opportunities
to get feedback on these assignments before the test. ]
3. Evidence of Language Understanding and Use
You may provide evidence of students language use from ONE, TWO, OR ALL THREE of
the following sources:
1. Use video clips from Task 2 and provide time-stamp references for language use.
2. Submit an additional video file named Language Use of no more than 5 minutes in
length and provide time-stamp references for student language use (this can be footage
of one or more students language use). Submit the clip in Task 3, Part B.

3. Use the student work samples analyzed in Task 3 and cite language use.
When responding to the prompt below, use concrete examples from the video clips (using timestamp references) and/or student work samples as evidence. Evidence from the clips may focus
on one or more students.

a. Explain and provide evidence for the extent to which your students were able to use or
struggled to use language (selected function, vocabulary and/or symbols, and additional
identified language demands from Task 1) to develop content understandings.
[ Students were asked to analyze the scenario given in substandard LS8-b, number 8, and to
predict what would happen. Most students made the connection that some members of the
species would die, and some students showed a deeper understanding by using their
knowledge of adaptation (and using the term adapt) to explain how the species could adapt to
the leaves changing colors.

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Secondary Science
Task 3: Assessment Commentary

One example of students struggling to analyze evidence and use appropriate vocabulary to
explain their understanding was in substandard LS9-a, number 1. This question asks students
to use natural selection to explain why species become simpler the deeper you dig in the fossil
record. Many students can explain why the fossil record provides support for natural selection
(there is a simple to complex pattern), but going the other way is difficult for many of them. I
was looking for the use of vocabulary terms such as diversified, adapted, and simple to
complex. I wanted to see them use terms like these to explain that as species adapt and
diversify over long amounts of time, you would expect organisms to become more diverse and
more complex. This can be observed in the fossil record. Students struggled to put this into
words, and some even displayed misconceptions (for example, the second student wrote that
as the animal found it natural preditor it changed (became more complex). The misconception
is that an individual animal can change its traits to adapt. This actually happens over time,
through multiple generations of the species. This response does not display a deep
understanding of adaptation/natural selection. ]
4. Using Assessment to Inform Instruction
a. Based on your analysis of student learning presented in prompts 1bc, describe next
steps for instruction

! for the whole class


! for the 3 focus students and other individuals/groups with specific needs
Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different strategies/support
(e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners, struggling readers,
underperforming students or those with gaps in academic knowledge, and/or gifted students
needing greater support or challenge).

[ We moved on as a whole class, and that seemed appropriate, given the averages for the
class. However, for future units, I considered writing assessments differently and considered
giving students more opportunities to self-evaluate and receive feedback. For the student with
an IEP, he received some individual help from the resource teacher on studying for retakes, and
he had individual help from my mentor teacher and myself during the retakes, so we could
explain the questions a little better for him. It sometimes helps him to display his understanding
when the weight of reading the question is off his shoulders, so to speak. He also did better
when doing activities with certain students, since he was more likely to participate in class when
with these students. Therefore, future activities were planned with this pairing of students in
mind. ]
b. Explain how these next steps follow from your analysis of student learning. Support your
explanation with principles from research and/or theory.
[ When students struggle the way my students have been struggling, it tells me that I have not
scaffolded the content properly. There is something missing in their schemas (this is from
Constructivist Learning Theory). Therefore, I need to provide more supports for learning in the
future. To do this, I will try to draw more on their past experiences and knowledge from
previous units in order to help them make connections necessary for deep understanding. This
will also help to make the material relevant, increasing the intrinsic motivation to learn the
content. I will continue to use high-order thinking questions, since this gets students to think
more deeply about the content, and I will provide more opportunities for reflection and selfevaluation. ]

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