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Washington Comprehensive Assessment in Science

The Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

  • Will be 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.
  • Will be online in grades 5, 8, and 11.
  • Will assess 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 will be administered like Smarter Balanced assessments so that students will be allowed to attempt the WCAS over multiple days.
  • Students in grade 11 are required to take the WCAS even if they have previously taken and met standard on the Biology EOC.  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. Changing the test (from the biology EOC to the WCAS) and the federal reporting year (from grade 10 to grade 11) results in some high school students having to take both tests.

WCAS Features:

  • Will assess all three dimensions of the learning standards (Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts).
  • Will consist of several item clusters (items associated to common stimuli) and standalone items.
  • Will require approximately the same testing time as previous state science assessments.
  • Will use 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.
  • Will have 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.
  • Will have some locking items where 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 will give the student a chance to return to the item and change their answer.
  • Will include 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
  • Will include 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.

WCAS scores will not be available 3 weeks after testing like the Smarter Balanced scores are. The WCAS is not an adaptive test, so it takes longer to finalize student scores. Scores from the spring WCAS will not be available until after the Achievement Level Setting meeting in later summer.

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