Resources

Student Assessment


PSAE Science Performance Definitions



Introduction

The Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which was administered to Illinois grade 11 public school students for the first time in spring 2001, assesses the high school benchmarks defined by the Illinois Learning Standards. Student performance on the PSAE is evaluated relative to four levels: Exceeds Standards, Meets Standards, Below Standards, and Academic Warning.

The work of students at each performance level is summarized in the following profiles:

Examples are provided only as guidance and are not meant to be exhaustive.

The PSAE science test consists of two multiple-choice assessments:

The test measures the Illinois Learning Standards for science contained in State Goals 11 through 13:

return to top

Exceeds Standards:

Student work at the Exceeds Standards level demonstrates advanced knowledge and skills in science. Students creatively apply knowledge and skills to solve problems and evaluate results.

Scientific Inquiry
Students whose performance exceeds the Standards formulate effective hypotheses and design procedures to test hypotheses. They understand how systematic controlled experiments are designed and properly apply statistical methods to show the accuracy of experimental results. These students identify a design problem, select criteria for a successful solution, and build and test different potential design solutions. They modify or refine a model in a manner that improves its design and identify criteria to evaluate the design solution.

Life Sciences
Students whose performance exceeds the Standards demonstrate an understanding of how genetic combinations and mutations produce visible effects and variations to the physical features and cellular functions of organisms. They recognize the structure and organization of living things and how they respond to external stimuli. They understand the significance of evidence that organisms have evolved over time, including the fossil record, vestigial organs, and phylogenetic trees. They understand and identify the abiotic and biotic factors that lead to extinction and speciation. They understand and predict how life forms adapt to changes in the environment and how adaptation affects the size and stability of a population.

Physical Sciences
Students whose performance exceeds the Standards demonstrate a good understanding of physical science concepts, such as atomic and nuclear theory, force, momentum and its conservation, mass, energy and its transformations, light, and sound. They analyze reactions, the properties of materials, the relative motion of objects, and the effects of the fundamental forces on physical systems. They make connections between classroom activities and real life situations.

Earth and Space Sciences
Students whose performance exceeds the Standards demonstrate an understanding of forces, events, and processes that affect Earth, including the origin and dynamic nature of Earth, such as plate tectonics and the related areas of earthquakes and volcanism; weather and climatic events; and the geologic history of Earth, such as rocks, minerals and fossils. They use these principles to analyze systems in the universe. They identify and describe objects in the solar system, such as the planets, their moons, asteroids, and comets, and make connections among them.

Science, Technology, and Society
Students whose performance exceeds the Standards are well aware of the applications and implications of laboratory safety. They understand the criteria that scientists use to evaluate the validity of scientific claims and theories. These students explain the strengths, weaknesses, and uses of research methodologies. They understand why experimental replication and peer reviews are necessary for scientific claims. These students analyze the political ramifications of scientific and technological advancements, such as nuclear weapons, biological and chemical warfare, and biotechnology. With little assistance, these students design environmental impact studies and analyze cost benefits and effects of scientific policies at the local, national, and global levels. These students identify and evaluate the connections between scientific progress and careers, job markets, and other aspects of everyday life, such as the economic impact of these connections.

return to top

Meets Standards:

Student work at the Meets Standards level demonstrates proficient knowledge and skills in science. Students effectively apply knowledge and skills to solve problems.

Scientific Inquiry
Students who meet the Standards formulate acceptable hypotheses and demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts of design procedures to test hypotheses. They understand how systematic controlled experiments are designed and the basic concepts of applying statistical methods to assess results. These students identify major experimental design problems, select criteria for a successful solution, and choose the best of different potential design solutions. They modify a model to improve its design and identify some criteria to evaluate the design solution.

Life Sciences
Students who meet the Standards demonstrate a basic understanding of how genetic combinations and mutations produce visible effects and variations to the physical features and cellular functions of organisms. They understand how organisms respond to external stimuli and identify basic structures and organization of living things. They understand the significance of evidence that organisms have evolved over time, including the fossil record, vestigial organs, and phylogenetic trees. They identify the abiotic and biotic factors that lead to extinction and speciation. They identify or predict basic mechanisms by which life forms adapt to changes in the environment and demonstrate a basic understanding of how adaptation affects the size and stability of a population

Physical Sciences
Students who meet the Standards demonstrate a basic understanding of physical science concepts, such as atomic and nuclear theory, force, momentum and its conservation, mass, energy and its transformations, light, and sound. They analyze reactions, the properties of materials, the relative motion of objects or the effects of the fundamental forces on physical systems. They make connections between classroom activities and real life situations.

Earth and Space Sciences
Students who meet the Standards demonstrate a general understanding of most large-scale dynamic forces, events, and processes of Earth’s systems (for example, the origin and dynamic nature of Earth, such as plate tectonics and the related areas of earthquakes and volcanism; weather and climatic events, and the geological history of the earth, including rocks, minerals, and fossils). They analyze the systems and components of the universe. They demonstrate a basic understanding of how geologic and astronomical events, such as earthquakes, weathering, meteor impacts, and supernovas, occur and the effects of these events. They identify and demonstrate familiarity with common objects in the solar system, such as planets, moons, meteors, and comets, and demonstrate a general understanding of the relationships among them.

Science, Technology, and Society
Students who meet the Standards demonstrate awareness of the most basic applications and implications of laboratory safety. They demonstrate a basic understanding of the criteria that scientists use to evaluate the validity of scientific claims or theories. They explain the strengths, weaknesses and uses of uncomplicated research methodologies. They demonstrate a basic understand of the necessity for experimental replication and peer reviews to support scientific claims. These students demonstrate sufficient knowledge to analyze the political ramifications of familiar scientific and technological advancements, such as nuclear weapons, biological and chemical warfare, and biotechnology. These students understand the basic principles underlying environmental impact studies, cost-benefits analyses, and effects of scientific policies at the local, national, and global levels. These students identify uncomplicated connections between scientific progress and careers, job markets, and other aspects of everyday life.

return to top

Below Standards:

Student work at the Below Standards level demonstrates basic knowledge and skills in science. However, because of gaps in learning, students apply knowledge and skills in limited ways.

Scientific Inquiry
Students who do not meet the Standards demonstrate an understanding of simple hypotheses and design procedures for simple hypotheses. They understand systematic controlled experiments and how to apply statistical methods for simple experiments. They identify some design problems, select some criteria for a successful solution, and identify potential design solutions for simple experiments. They modify a simple model in a manner that improves its design and identify some criteria to evaluate the design solution.

Life Sciences
Students who do not meet the Standards demonstrate a rudimentary understanding of how genetic combinations and mutations produce visible effects and variations in the physical features and cellular functions of organisms. They demonstrate a limited understanding of how organisms respond to external stimuli. They identify the basic structures and organization of living things. They understand the significance of some of the evidence that organisms have evolved over time, such as the fossil record and phylogenetic trees. They identify some of the most common abiotic and biotic factors that lead to extinction and speciation. They describe or predict how life forms adapt to clearly defined changes in the environment and the relationship between these changes and the size and stability of a population.

Physical Sciences
Students who do not meet the Standards demonstrate an elementary understanding of physical science concepts, such as atomic and nuclear theory, force, momentum and its conservation, mass, energy and its transformations, and light and sound. They analyze simple reactions, the properties of common materials, the relative motion of objects, and the effects of the fundamental forces on physical systems. They make rudimentary connections between classroom activities and real life situations.

Earth and Space Sciences
Students who do not meet the Standards demonstrate a rudimentary understanding of large-scale dynamic forces, events, and processes of Earth’s systems, such as the origin and dynamic nature of Earth, including plate tectonics and the related areas of earthquakes and volcanism; weather and climatic events; and the geological history of the earth, including an understanding of rocks, minerals and fossils. They identify objects in the solar system, such as planets, stars, and comets, but do not understand relationships among them. For example, they may have some recognition that our solar system is a component of the Milky Way Galaxy but do not explain its position in the galaxy.

Science, Technology, and Society
Students who are below state Standards have a limited awareness of the applications and implications of laboratory safety. They are aware of some of the main criteria that scientists use to evaluate the validity of scientific claims or theories. They can explain some of the main strengths, weaknesses, and uses of research methodologies. They have a rudimentary understanding of why experimental replication or peer reviews are necessary for scientific claims. These students can analyze some of the political ramifications of common scientific and technological advancements, such as nuclear weapons, biological and chemical warfare, and biotechnology. These students have a rudimentary understanding of the basic principles underlying the conduct of environmental impact studies, cost-benefit analyses, and the effects of scientific policies at the local, national, and global levels. These students identify some basic connections between scientific progress and careers, job markets, and other aspects of everyday life.

return to top

Academic Warning:

Student work at the Academic Warning level demonstrates limited knowledge and skills in science. Because of major gaps in learning, students apply knowledge and skills ineffectively.

Scientific Inquiry
Students at the Academic Warning level demonstrate difficulty trying to formulate simple hypotheses and immense difficulty in designing procedures to test hypotheses. These students have reading difficulties that limit their ability to read for content meaning and usually demonstrate mathematical difficulties that limit their attempts to apply statistical methods. In group-learning situations where a teacher or mentor is guiding the study, these students sometimes identify a design problem, select criteria for a successful solution, or build and test different potential design solutions. If they are prompted numerous times during a systematic, controlled experiment, they are sometimes somewhat successful.

Life Sciences
Students at the Academic Warning level may be able to demonstrate understanding of simple genetic crosses but rarely understand the principles of genetic combinations and mutations that produce visible effects and variations of the physical features or cellular functions of organisms. They describe how organisms respond to external stimuli if they have observed such responses, but these students do not generally provide factual reasons for responses outside the realm of their experiences. Students describe some structural parts of organisms but generally do not attempt to place the total structure or organization of living things in perspective. These students may attempt to identify evidence that organisms have evolved over time but give no conceptual explanation of fossil records, vestigial organs, or phylogenetic trees. These students rarely describe or identify the abiotic and biotic factors that lead to extinction and speciation. While these students may notice observable changes, they not explain or predict how life forms adapt to changes in the environment that affect the size and stability of the population.

Physical Sciences
Students at the Academic Warning level demonstrate comprehension of the concept of elements and the ability of elements to combine to form compounds. They describe rudimentary physical phenomena they observe but demonstrating little understanding of basic physical science concepts, such as atomic and nuclear theory, bonding forces, energy, light, and sound. They do not analyze reaction mechanisms, the properties of materials, the relative motion of objects, or the effects of the fundamental forces. It is extremely difficult for these students to make connections between classroom activities and real life situations or to later recall these associations.

Earth and Space Sciences
Students at the Academic Warning level may demonstrate understanding of isolated concepts about phenomena such as eclipses, tornados, earthquakes, or droughts. However, they demonstrate little if any understanding of the connections between large-scale dynamic forces, events, and processes that affect Earth’s systems, such as the origin and dynamic nature of Earth, plate tectonics, and the related areas of earthquakes and volcanism, weather and climatic events; and the geologic history of the earth, including an understanding of rocks, minerals, and fossils. They identify pictures of Earth, the moon, and the sun but do not explain the concept of the Milky Way Galaxy, the life cycles of stars or planets, and the place of Earth in the broad picture.

Science, Technology, and Society
Students at the Academic Warning level need constant reminders of the applications and implications of laboratory safety. They do not demonstrate comprehension of the main criteria that scientists use to evaluate the validity of scientific claims or theories. These students do not analyze political ramifications of common scientific and technological advancements, such as nuclear weapons, biological and chemical warfare, or biotechnology. They do not make connections between scientific progress and careers, job markets, and other aspects of everyday life.

return to top

return to Science

return to PSAE Page