NGSS Assessment Boundaries & Rubric

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
As states forge ahead in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, the question of assessment becomes increasingly important. Read on to learn about the recommended NGSS assessment boundaries and current rubric for NGSS lessons.

Recommended Strategy for NGSS Assessments

Because the Next Generation Science Standards emphasize not only academic knowledge but also the ability to apply engineering practices and general scientific concepts at each grade, they cannot be adequately assessed in one large-scale test. Instead, according to a National Research Council (NRC) report on developing NGSS assessments, states need to develop three-tiered systems of complementary assessments. Because this multi-component assessment system represents a departure from traditional assessment, the NRC advises states to develop and implement NGSS assessments slowly and to provide teachers with adequate training and professional support throughout the process.

Components of NGSS Assessment Systems

The three components that the NRC recommends for NGSS assessment systems aim to measure students' knowledge of information taught in the classroom, how well they are progressing in the understanding of scientific concepts, and the adequacy of the NGSS learning opportunities students receive.

Classroom Assessments

Classroom assessments are the top priority in the development of NGSS assessment systems. Classroom assessments comprise tasks in which students must demonstrate their understanding of the disciplinary core areas, crosscutting concepts, and practices outlined within the NGSS. Educators may use a variety of these tasks, not only at the end of a unit or lesson but also throughout the year in order to spot areas in which students need additional instruction.

Assessments for Monitoring

States or districts need to implement standard assessments to monitor the abilities of students in meeting NGSS performance expectations. These include both on-demand assessments that students take on the date mandated by the state and assessments that schools administer according to the classroom instruction schedule.

Assessments for NGSS Learning Opportunities

The final component of NGSS assessment measures the adequacy of the opportunities students are provided to learn the skills and knowledge outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards. This requires states to monitor indicators such as the quality of professional development and instructional materials provided to teachers, along with the propriety of the resources and classroom instruction students receive.

NGSS Rubric for Science Lessons and Units

The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) rubric for science helps states and educators review and develop NGSS-aligned curricula and lessons. The rubric outlines the criteria by which to evaluate lessons and units in three categories: alignment to NGSS, instructional supports, and the monitoring of student progress. Scoring and rating guidelines will be added to the rubric as more NGSS-aligned materials are developed. The current version is available on the NGSS website (

Additional Help in Developing NGSS-Aligned Lessons's online courses for science offer teachers lessons and talking points that may be integrated into NGSS-aligned classroom instruction. Courses are available for the NGSS core disciplinary subjects at all grade levels. To explore what these courses offer, see:

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