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Science Assessment and Item Specifications for the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress

Science seeks to increase our understanding of the natural world through empirical evidence. Such evidence gathered through observation and measurement allows explanation and prediction of natural phenomena. Hence, a scientifically literate person is familiar with the natural world and understands key facts, concepts, principles, laws, and theories of science, such as the motion of objects, the function of cells in living organisms, and the properties of Earth materials. Further, a scientifically literate person can connect ideas across disciplines, for example, the conservation of energy in physical, life, Earth, and space systems. Scientific literacy also encompasses understanding the use of scientific principles and ways of thinking to advance our knowledge of the natural world, as well as the use of science to solve problems in real-world contexts, which this document refers to as "Using Technological Design."

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) measures student science achievement nationally, state-by-state, and most recently across selected urban school districts. Periodically, the framework and specifications underlying the science assessment is revised or updated. This document, the Science Assessment and Item Specifications for the 2009 NAEP (herein called the Specifications), contains a new set of recommendations for the NAEP Science Assessment to be administered in 2009 and beyond. The Specifications provides guidance on the science content to be assessed, the types of assessment questions, and the administration of the assessment.