Assess for the Best

Assessment in the Science Classroom

There are hundreds of ways to assess students in a science classroom. Lab reports. Multiple Choice exams. Written Essays. Demonstrations. Presentations. Posters. The list could go on for so long, I’d probably graduate with my Bachelors’ before we would finish.  In this blog, we’ll explore some of the many ways to assess your students in science.

Assessment by Argument

In Steve Metz’s article in The Science Teacher, he encourages assessment in the science classroom by way of argumentation. Read below for some of the reasoning and tips he gives to implement assessment by argumentation.

  • Students must use evidence to back up their argument
  • When listening to different arguments, students learn how to analyze them using evidence and logical reasoning
  • Argumentation allows students to also work on their social skills
  • You can also assess students on their ability to alter their argument based on new evidence they gathered
  • Can be done in a written format or verbally during class

In the video above, this teacher explains how to formatively assess students in a science classroom. She talks about the importance of assessing throughout the class, not just at the end, as well as how to effectively introduce peer feedback into your classroom.

What Could it Look Like?

In this section I’ll introduce a sample rubric and list a way you could use it in your own science classroom.

This rubric is just a general science writing rubric that can be used for many different assessments you might have planned for your students. One way it could be used is if students had to write about the path a blood cell takes throughout the body and different things it has to do, like when it becomes oxygenated and deoxygenated, but the students have to do it as if THEY are the blood cell.

  • Instead of writing another boring lab report, this assessment allows for lots of creativity
  • Although students are able to be creative, they still have many opportunities to show their knowledge like using the names of structures, explaining in detail what a structure may look like, or explaining how a process works.
  • The rubric is very flexible and can be used for many writing assessments
  • The rubric explains in detail what students should be striving for when they are working on their story

This rubric and example assessment can be altered to whatever your class may need whether that may be another category on the rubric or a different assessment for a chemistry or physics class.

Tailoring Assessments to Fit Your Classroom

When talking assessments, it’s important to remember not all students are equal. You will probably encounter a class in which you have to tailor your assessment to ensure each student has an equitable chance.


  • allow ELL’s to use translation dictionaries
  •  If an ELL is just starting out in the English language but has a sound knowledge of science, allow them to take the assessment in their native language
  • If possible, allow them to write in their native language and have a translator help you grade it

Students with Learning Differences

  • Hearing impaired students may receive written directions or handouts if anything is oral
  • Hearing impaired students may use ASL to communicate answers for an oral assessment with a translator if necessary
  • Students with visual impairments may receive directions and the assessment in Braille if they need it as well as spoken directions and/or having the assessment read to them


1 Comment

  1. Claire,
    Great post! I really like how you chose an article about using argumentation as a form of assessment! When you hear the word assessment, one typically doesn’t think of argumentation, so this is a great, innovative idea. I am not a good test taker, and tests are what I think of when I think of an assessment, so I love the idea of finding alternative ways to assess students, because I know I would have appreciated it in high school! What’s a topic you would use this type of assessment for in your classroom?
    I also enjoyed reading your different accommodations, I think they would be really helpful!
    Great job!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.