By walking through this sample adaptation of a PALM task, you can begin to see how you yourself can modify performance assessment tasks. We start here with the actual standards used in a task's development and move towards the creation of specific targets or goals. These elements of a task design can be found in the first part of a task's Administration Procedures. Targets, which are not specified in the PALM library, must be created.

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Administration Procedures

Grades 5-8 Performance Task
Contributed by: Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO/SCASS)

This event asks students to determine the average speed of a toy car as it travels six different distances set up by the students. Three trials are done for each distance. The only requirement is that the longest distance must be at least three times longer than the shortest distance used. Students use their experience to describe an experiment to determine if cars that pass by the school are speeding.

This task is designed to take students approximately 40 - 50 50-60 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

  • Physical Science
Specific Knowledge Areas:
  • Motions and forces
  • Using mathematics

Performance Expectations:

  • conducting investigations
  • using equipment
  • gathering, organizing, and representing data
  • formulating conclusions from investigational data
  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations and solve new problems
  • applying mathematics to develop explanations and solve new problems

National Science Education Standards:

8 B PS 2: Motions and forces: Grades 5-8

2.1 The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. That motion can be measured and represented on a graph.

8 A SI 1: Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 5-8
1.2 Design and conduct a scientific investigation. Students should develop general abilities, such as systematic observation, making accurate measurements, and identifying and controlling variables. They should also develop the ability to clarify their ideas that are influencing and guiding the inquiry, and to understand how those ideas compare with current scientific knowledge. Students can learn to formulate questions, design investigations, execute investigations, interpret data, use evidence to generate explanations, propose alternative explanations, and critique explanations and procedures.

1.4 Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. Students should base their explanation on what they observed, and as they develop cognitive skills, they should be able to differentiate explanation from description — providing causes for effects and establishing relationships based on evidence and logical argument. This standards requires a subject knowledge base so the students can effectively conduct investigations, because developing explanations establishes connections between the content of science and the contexts within which students develop new knowledge.

1.8 Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry. Mathematics is essential to asking and answering questions about the natural world. Mathematics can be used to ask questions; to gather, organize, and present data; and to structure convincing explanations.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

AL1: Understand patterns, relations and functions:
Grades 6-8 f. represent, analyze, and generalize a variety of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic rules

DAP2: Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data:
Grades 6-8 e. find, use, and interpret measures of center and spread, including mean and interquartile range

DAP3: Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data:
Grades 6-8 e. use conjectures to formulate new questions and plan new studies to answer them

MEAS2: Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements:
Grades 6-8 k. select and apply techniques and tools to accurately find length, area, volume, and angle measures to appropriate levels of precision;
Grades 6-8 o. solve simple problems involving rates and derived measurements for such attributes as velocity and density.

PS2: Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts:
Grades 6-8

RP2: Develop and evaluate mathematical arguments and proofs:
Grades 6-8

CON4: Use the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely:
Grades 6-8

CON2: Understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole:
Grades 6-8

Achievement Targets

Knowledge Targets
• Understands the concepts of force and motion
• Understands the steps involved in planning an experiment to determine if cars are speeding
• Understands how to represent data in multiple ways

Reasoning Targets
• Uses findings to construct a reasonable explanation about the accuracy of their data
• Uses findings to reason about the relationship between time and distance traveled
• Uses findings to design a new experiment

Skill Targets
• Makes and records measurements of speed
• Calculates average speed
• Makes accurate graphical representation of data

Product Targets
• Uses skills and reasoning to clearly answer questions in the assessment

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