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Operationalizing Alternate Assessment for Science Inquiry Skills


The South Carolina Department of Education requests $1,168,706 over an 18-month period to implement the Operationalizing Alternate Assessment for Science Inquiry Skills (OAASIS) project. Developing assessment strategies based on specific student characteristics and instructional needs is crucial if accurate inferences are to be made about what students know and can do.

The OAASIS project will change and improve state assessment systems because it will inform and provide guidance to a current assessment priority—defining the target student population and developing an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards (AA-MAS) that provides accurate results for students—in order to use the 2% flexibility option as outlined in the No Child Left Behind non-regulatory guidance document (April 2007). South Carolina’s meets the four absolute priorities and the three competitive preference priorities established for the Enhanced Assessment Grant program.

The goal of OAASIS is to investigate the process and development of an alternate assessment based on modified achievement standards (AA-MAS) by defining the target population, administering assessment strategies using multiple formats, and evaluating their accuracy in measuring student achievement. Objectives for OAASIS are 1) Establish learner characteristics and instructional needs as a basis for the design of multiple assessment strategies that increase access for students requiring AA-MAS; 2) Establish a common core of high school science inquiry standards among all participating states; 3) Design and implement three assessment strategy formats based on the common essential constructs of high school science inquiry content standards; 4) Disseminate results through diverse methods to reach widest audience possible.

Partners involved in OAASIS include two universities; Vanderbilt University and the University of South Carolina; two state partners (South Dakota and Wyoming); 31 state members of the State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards: Assessing Special Education Students (ASES-SCASS); and the Discovery/ThinkLink Learning Corporation. Through this collaborative effort, OAASIS promises to yield significant information for all states on the processes and procedures not only to create an AA-MAS, but to create an effective, valid, AA-MAS.