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Washington Comprehensive Assessment in Science

The Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

  • Was administered for the first time in spring 2018. The assessments fulfill the federal requirement that students be tested once in science at each level: elementary, middle, and high school.
  • Is online in grades 5, 8, and 11.
  • Assesses the Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (Next Generation Science Standards).
  • The WCAS requires approximately the same testing times as previous state science assessments: 90 minutes for grade 5, 110 minutes in grade 8, and 120 minutes in grade 11.
  • The WCAS is administered like Smarter Balanced assessments so students are allowed to attempt the WCAS over multiple days.
  • Students in grade 11 are required to take the WCAS. This is due to the federal requirement (ESSA) that we test and report the results of current state science assessment once each school year in elementary, middle, and high school.

WCAS Features:

  • Assesses all three dimensions of the learning standards (Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts).
  • Consists of several item clusters (items associated to common stimuli) and standalone items.
  • Requires approximately the same testing time as previous state science assessments.
  • Uses the same online engine as the Smarter Balanced assessments. For item clusters, stimuli will appear on left side of screen, with associated items on the right side. Standalone items will occupy the entire screen.
  • Has some clusters with more than one stimulus. The first stimulus is collapsed when the second stimulus is provided. Both stimuli are available to the student.
  • Has some locking items where the student cannot change their answer once they have moved on to the next item. This allows subsequent items to update the student with correct information. An “attention” box warns the student that they will not be able to change their answer once they move on, and gives the student a chance to return to the item and change their answer.
  • Includes a variety of item types:
    • Selected Response-multiple choice, multiple select
    • Technology Enhanced-ex: drag and drop, drop-down choices, simulations, graphing
    • Constructed Response-ex: equation builder, short answer
  • Includes multi-part items:
    • Parts labeled with letters A, B, and C.
    • May have a mix of item types.  May ask for evidence to support an answer from a previous part of the item.

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