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Assessment items have been developed through various projects. You can browse them by the project through which they were developed or by associated NGSS statements across all projects.

Pretest and Posttest Forms

Below are PDF versions of the pretest and posttest forms that were used in our testing of the curriculum. These forms are very similar to each other in difficulty and in the distribution of test items across key ideas. Any of the forms can be used as stand-alone tests, or items can be selected from the full set of items to create shorter or longer tests for different purposes.

Pretest Form A
Pretest Form B
Pretest Form C
Pretest Form D
Posttest Form A
Posttest Form B
Posttest Form C
Posttest Form D

Assessment Items

Select a science topic to see a list of the key ideas for that topic and options for viewing items and additional information. Add items to "My Item Bank" and then use the "Create & Take Tests" feature to make and administer your own tests.

Life Science

Physical Science

    No items

Earth Science

    No items

Nature of Science

    No items


Published work and conference presentations related to the Evolution topic.

NARST 2019

Assessment Development

The goal of the Evolution Assessment project was to develop test items that can be used to assess students’ understanding of ideas related to evolution and related topics, aligned to learning goals in the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards. The items were developed in connection with a curriculum development project—Evolution: DNA and the Unity of Life—which can be found at https://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/evolution/. The curriculum module and assessments were both aligned to NGSS learning goals but not intentionally to each other, and they were developed independently by research teams at two different institutions. The assessment items are intended to be used to test of students’ understanding of the NGSS ideas, not limited to any specific curriculum.

The test items assess students’ understanding of ideas about natural selection, common ancestry, speciation, heredity, the molecular basis of genetic transmission, along with the science practices of explanation, quantitative reasoning, and evidence-based argumentation. There are 88 unique test items organized into eight equivalent forms. Four of the forms were pilot tested on students prior to their having instruction on the target ideas, and four forms were pilot tested following instruction.

Development of the assessment items began by reviewing the relevant NGSS learning goals, including performance expectations, evidence statements, disciplinary core ideas, science practices, and related statements from the NRC Framework. Research on student learning was examined to identify common misconceptions, which were then incorporated into the items as distractors. Items were pilot tested with 4,588 middle and high school students throughout the U.S. during the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016.

Revised test items were used as pre- and posttests during pilot testing of the curriculum during the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017. Items were again revised based on an examination of the student’s answer choice selections and item reliabilities. Following revision, 88 items were selected and distributed across four pretest forms and four posttest forms. These tests were then used to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum in an RCT study. Students in control (business-as-usual) and treatment (evolution module) groups were randomly assigned one of the four pretest forms and then, later, one of the four posttest forms. The control group comprised 1,407 students and the treatment group 1,417 students. The results of the RCT study appear under the Evolution Project tab.