K-12 curricula are designed to satisfy the learning needs of students at different levels of instruction. However, regardless the specific level of knowledge and skills in K-12, teachers and instructional professionals are required to design a reliable set of measures, to evaluate student achievements and to use the evaluation results to develop and implement instructional changes.
Science curriculum is particularly important for preparing students to real-life achievements and making them aware of the basic scientific elements they face daily. Objectively, effective assessment models usually comprise two or more evaluation methodologies, but when limited in choice, the CIPP assessment model can become the source of valuable information about the student progress and the chances students have to achieve the basic curriculum standards.
Here, we will review the science curriculum for grades 1-5. Science curriculum: grades 1-5 Science forms the foundation of student practical knowledge; this knowledge can later be applied in other essential life areas. Beyond the need to construct effective course materials and to design a set of achievable learning objectives for every level of student knowledge, it is important that teachers possess sufficient knowledge about the ways they can evaluate their student knowledge in progress.
K-12 science program “balances hands-on experience with systematic study of scientific terms and concepts. Students perform many experiments to help them understand scientific principles, and receive guided instruction in important scientific concepts” (K-12, 2008b), and as students are required to produce relevant learning results, teachers are fully responsible for the objectivity of evaluation and assessment models they use in the process of teaching science.
The CIPP model: essence and rationale The CIPP assessment model is known as the model for evaluating student achievements in progress. “The CIPP Model’s current version reflects prolonged effort and a modicum of progress to achieve the still distant goal of developing a sound evaluation theory, i. e. , a coherent set of conceptual, hypothetical, pragmatic, and ethical principles forming a general framework to guide the study and practice of evaluation” (Stufflebeam, 2000).
The CIPP model is convenient in use, and provides the basis for developing effective formative and summative evaluation approaches, which are particularly important in science curriculum. The CIPP Model seeks evaluating all core elements of a curriculum, including the learning needs, curriculum goals, alternative learning approaches, the process of implementation, and finally, the learning outcomes.
When applied to K-12 science curricula, the CIPP Model is expected to produce a detailed review of the benefits and drawbacks of specific curriculum elements, and to offer alternative opportunities for raising the effectiveness of scientific instructional methodology across all grades. As the CIPP Model’s primary purpose is not to prove, but to improve, or rather, to indicate the need for improvement, “evaluation becomes a functional activity oriented in the long run to stimulating, aiding, and abetting efforts to strengthen and improve enterprises” (Cronbach, 1992).
Of course, educational professionals should bear in mind that the CIPP Model tends to emphasize the predominance of top-down approaches to instruction and evaluation; moreover, it may also posit that “some programs or other services will prove unworthy of attempts to improve them” (Cronbach, 1992), but it will become a good starting point for those who would like to form an objective view of the effectiveness and usefulness of scientific knowledge in K-12 schools. Trying to design an assessment model for K-12 science curriculum, the four critical elements need to be considered. These include context, input, process, and product (CIPP).
Ultimately, with CIPP Model placing special emphasis on stakeholders’ involvement into the curriculum design process, teachers, parents, and education professionals will need to be included into assessment committees at all levels of instruction. K-12 science: learning to know At the first level of scientific instruction, students “learn to perform experiments and record observations, and understand how scientists see the natural world. They germinate seeds to observe plant growth, and make a weathervane” (K-12, 2008b). Students are expected to explore the topics related to weather, matter, animal classification and adaptation.
The curriculum standards imply the need for two science lessons per week, with total number of lessons 72, and each lesson lasting 60 minutes. The second grade moves students to a new level of knowledge, where they perform experiments and subsequently develop good observational and analytical skills. Force, sound, human body, and life cycles are the key terms used by science students in Grade 2. By applying the basic knowledge of metrics, measurements, force, simple machines and mechanics in practice, students are expected to demonstrate their ability to turn theoretical knowledge into practical skills (K-12, 2008b).
In Grade 3, “students learn to observe and analyze through hands-on experiments, and gain further insight into how scientists understand our world” (K-12, 2008b). Weather, vertebrates, energy, light, and astronomy are the key topics explored by students in the third grade. Total 72 lessons with each lasting no more than 60 minutes will lead students to understanding ecosystems and properties of matter. Students must be able to critically analyze the scientific findings of the past.
The interdependence of life, animal and plant interactions, forces and fluids, rocks and minerals, as well as the fossil record and the history of life are the basics of scientific knowledge in Grade 4. Students must be able to explain that “ecosystems are characterized by both their living and nonliving parts; identify a mixture as a combination of two or more substances that are not chemically bound; describe some factors that change the growth of a population, and to explain that atmospheric pressure decreases with height above sea level while water pressure increases with depth below the sea level” (K-12, 2008b).
Safety goggles, lamp receptacles, magnifying glass and spring scale are some out of many additional materials students are to use during science lessons. The total 72 lessons can also be divided into smaller segments, to ensure that the students achieve standard curriculum objectives in learning. In Grade 5, students finalize their general scientific knowledge and are transferred to more specific scientific disciplines. That is why assessing student scientific knowledge in Grade 5 is particularly important to guarantee that students are able to apply their skills in other science courses.
Here, students will further work on developing scientific reasoning; by building a model of a watershed and testing cell membranes functioning students will explore the topics of water resources, oceans, chemistry, taxonomy of plants and animals, and cell processes (K-12, 2008b). A wide range of additional materials and items will be used to improve the quality of learning in K-12 science curriculum and to facilitate the student transition to more specific scientific subjects.