Earth and space systems standards assessment: an evaluation of eighth grade students' and elementary education majors' attainment of the standards
In signing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education act in 2002, President George W. Bush enacted sweeping reform legislation that focuses on the assessment of students and new teachers, based upon state standards. Although statewide reading and math assessments have been implemented, as required by the NCLB legislation, states have until the 2007-2008 school year to begin assessing students' knowledge of state science standards and until the 2005-2006 school year to begin assessing new teachers' knowledge in science subjects. In the interim, there is a need to assess students' attainment of science standards and to assess new teachers' content knowledge in science subjects. The purpose of this study was to determine if eighth grade students in southeast Idaho and elementary education majors of an Idaho university meet the K-8 earth and space systems standards of the state of Idaho, as measured by the earth and space systems standards assessment (ESSSA). This study also sought to determine if there are differences in the mean of the total scores on the ESSSA between the two groups and if there are differences in the number of standards met between the groups. Subject-matter experts were utilized to validate a 44-question, four-item, multiple-choice, all-text, two-items-per-content-standard earth and space systems standards assessment. The instrument was used to assess 517 eighth grade students in a southeast Idaho school district, and to assess 68 elementary education majors at a university in Idaho during the spring of 2003. Results of this study indicate that eighth grade students met a mean of 8.18 of the 22 standards (37.1%), and that the elementary education majors met a mean of 9.75 of the 22 standards (44.3%). Eighth grade students also had a mean score of 25.46 out of 44 questions (57.8%), and the elementary education majors had a mean score of 28.54 out of 44 questions (64.8%). This study determined that the elementary education majors scored significantly higher and attained significantly more standards than the eighth grade students. The eighth grade students scored higher on five of the content standards, however, although only one was significantly higher.