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Keywords:

  • item format;
  • item response theory;
  • knowledge integration;
  • science assessment;
  • validation

Abstract

Science education needs valid, authentic, and efficient assessments. Many typical science assessments primarily measure recall of isolated information. This paper reports on the validation of assessments that measure knowledge integration ability among middle school and high school students. The assessments were administered to 18,729 students in five states. Rasch analyses of the assessments demonstrated satisfactory item fit, item difficulty, test reliability, and person reliability. The study showed that, when appropriately designed, knowledge integration assessments can be balanced between validity and reliability, authenticity and generalizability, and instructional sensitivity and technical quality. Results also showed that, when paired with multiple-choice items and scored with an effective scoring rubric, constructed-response items can achieve high reliabilities. Analyses showed that English language learner status and computer use significantly impacted students' science knowledge integration abilities. Students who took the assessment online, which matched the format of content delivery, performed significantly better than students who took the paper-and-pencil version. Implications and future directions of research are noted, including refining curriculum materials to meet the needs of diverse students and expanding the range of topics measured by knowledge integration assessments. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 48: 1079–1107, 2011