To: District Superintendents of Schools
        Superintendents of Public and Nonpublic Schools
        Principals of Public Elementary Schools
        Principals of Nonpublic Elementary Schools

From: Gerald E. DeMauro, Coordinator of Assessment

Subject: New York State Program Evaluation Test in Science, Grade 4

Date: September 1999

New forms of the New York State Program Evaluation Test (PET) in Science, Grade 4 will be introduced in May of 2000. A new objective test, Form H, will replace Form G. A new performance test, Form Z, will replace the manipulative skills test, Form Y.

The PET in Science is designed to assess the content, concepts, and skills contained in New York State's Elementary Science Syllabus, Levels I and II and the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (Elementary Level). The test is designed to help you evaluate your K– 4 science program. The test will continue to consist of two required components, an objective test and a performance test, as well as four optional components. The required components are to be administered to fourth grade students in two separate sessions at the convenience of school personnel during the month of May. All or part of the optional components may be administered any time during the school year.

The objective test, Form H, consists of 45 multiple-choice questions. The performance test, Form Z, consists of hands-on tasks set up at five stations. These tasks evaluate a number of inquiry, problem solving, and communication skills. The enclosed test description will provide you with more details about the test format. Please note that the format of performance test Form Z has several features that are different from the format of the manipulative skills test that you have been using for the last several years.

As in the past, workshops on how to implement this new science performance assessment will be offered in your region of the State. These workshops will be organized by your BOCES, Large City Staff & Curriculum Development representatives in cooperation with their Elementary Science Assessment Liaisons (SAL’s), or the New York City community school district science coordinators. The workshops will cover preparation for and administration of the test as well as the rating, analyzing, and reporting of the test results. You will receive more information in the fall regarding dates, times, and locations of this training. Specific questions regarding the new forms will be answered at that time.

A list of the materials needed for the new performance test is enclosed. Schools may prepare the performance task materials themselves. As in the past, kits of materials for each station will also be available from commercial vendors and some BOCES.

The PET in Science will continue to have the same optional components that you have used in recent years. Science program environment surveys for students, administrators, teachers, and parents/guardians will be included. These surveys may be used to further assess the school’s science program.

Questions may be directed to Judy Pinsonnault at (518) 474-5900. Further information about ordering, administering, and scoring the examination will be provided during the 1999–2000 school year.

New York State Program Evaluation Test in Science, Grade 4
Objective Test, Form H & Performance Test, Form Z
Date of Introduction: May 2000

Test Description

The New York State Program Evaluation Test in Science is designed to assess the content, concepts, and skills contained in New York State's Elementary Science Syllabus, Levels I and II and the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (Elementary Level). Level I of the syllabus contains content specified for children ages 4–7 (typically grades K–2). Level II contains content specified for children ages 7–9 (typically grades 3–4).

This program evaluation test consists of two required components, an objective test and a performance test, as well as four optional components. The required components are to be administered to fourth grade students in two separate sessions at the convenience of school personnel during the month of May. All or part of the optional components may be administered any time during the school year. All components of the test are described below.

Required Components

The objective test (Form H) consists of 45 multiple-choice questions based on material in New York State’s Elementary Science Syllabus and referenced to the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (Elementary Level). The tables below show the number of questions from each level and section of the syllabus and the number of questions that address each of the four relevant learning standards.

New York State Program Evaluation Test in Science, Grade 4
Objective Test, Form H

 

New York State’s Elementary Science Syllabus

New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology (Elementary Level)

Content/Skills

Level I

(Ages 4–7)

Level II

(Ages 7–9)

Total Questions

Learning Standard

Total Questions

Life Science

7

8

15

Scientific Inquiry

8

Physical Science

7

6

13

Mathematics

3

Skills

5

12

17

Physical Setting

17

Total Questions

19

26

45

Living Environment

17

 

Total Questions

45

The performance test (Form Z) consists of hands-on tasks set up at five stations. These tasks primarily address NYS Learning Standard 1, Scientific Inquiry. Four of the stations require students to work individually, and one requires students to work cooperatively in pairs. During the testing session, students work for 15 minutes each at three of the five stations. The administration is set up so that half of the students at a school complete a test booklet containing tasks 1, 2, and 3. The other half of the students completes a test booklet containing tasks 3, 4, and 5. (This means that 50% of the students will respond to tasks 1 and 2, the other 50% will respond to tasks 4 and 5, and 100% of the students will respond to task 3.) The five tasks are described below

Task 1 – Liquids

Students use measuring equipment and their observation skills to determine the physical properties of objects, make inferences about discrepant events, and formulate new questions based on the data collected.

Task 2 – Grouping Objects

Students sort a set of eight objects into appropriate groups and then create their own classification system by forming subgroups for the objects.

Task 3 – Ball and Ramp Game

Two students work together cooperatively at this task, which uses a ball and ramp "game". The students gather data about problems associated with the development of the game. Students measure distance and make inferences and predictions based on the data they collect. Each student completes an answer sheet and makes predictions about how to modify the game.

Task 4 – Magnetic and Electrical Testing

Students use a magnet and electrical tester to collect data about a set of eight objects. They record their findings and use the data they collect to make inferences and generalizations about the magnetic and electrical properties of the set of objects.

Task 5 – Unknown Object

Students are given an unknown object and are asked to describe it in a letter so that a scientist might be able to identify it. Students must use observation skills and nonstandard measurement to describe the object, communicate this information in writing, and ask additional questions of the scientist to further their investigation of the object.

Optional Components

The optional components of the Program Evaluation Test in Elementary Science may be used to further assess the school’s science program. These separate environment surveys are designed for use by students, administrators, teachers, or parents/guardians. It is suggested that not all of the surveys be used every year, but that they are rotated over a 3- to 4-year cycle. The availability of adequate time to analyze the responses should dictate how many surveys are used in a given year. The number of items in each survey is listed below.

Student Science Program Environment Survey 25 items
Administrator Science Program Environment Survey 32 items
Teacher Science Program Environment Survey 36 items
Parent/Guardian Science Program Environment Survey 12 items

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