Science Test Added to California’s School Dashboard

Science Test Added to California’s School Dashboard

The State Board of Education is moving forward with plans to add the state’s science assessment to the California School Dashboard, making it a new piece of the statewide school accountability system, according to EdSource.

Students first took the online science test in 2019, before Covid forced an interruption of testing in 2020. Starting in 2025, performances by district, school and student groups will receive one of five dashboard colors, designating the lowest (red) to the highest performance (blue) — just as with math, English language arts and other achievement indicators. Each color reflects two factors: how well students performed in the latest year and how much the score improved or declined from the previous year.  

Science teachers welcomed the move as a way of drawing more attention to science instruction. “Doing so will add visibility to ensure that districts invest to make sure all California students receive the science ed they deserve,” Peter A’Hearn, a past president of the California Association of Science Educators, told the state board at a hearing March 6.

“Our biggest frustration is that students have not been getting any or minimal instruction in elementary schools, especially in low-performing and low-socioeconomic schools,” A’Hearn said.

As required by Congress, all students in grades five, eight and at least once in high school take the California Science Test or CAST. Designed with the assistance of California science teachers to align with the Next Generation Science Standards, the test includes multiple-choice questions, short-answer responses and a performance task requiring students to solve a problem by demonstrating scientific reasoning.

For the 2022-23 year, only 30% of students overall scored at or above grade standard. Eleventh-grade students did best, with 31.7% meeting or exceeding standard. 

The test measures knowledge in three domains: life sciences, focusing on structures and processes in living things, including heredity and biological evolution; physical sciences, focusing on matter and its interactions, motion, energy and waves; and Earth and space sciences, focusing on Earth’s place in the universe and the Earth’s systems.



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