The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) challenge traditional ways of measuring cognitive load. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), assessments aligned to NGSS must incorporate items representing a range of cognitive complexities.
The Delaware Department of Education (DOE) recently met this challenge when they modified the Task Analysis Guide in Science (TAGS). TAGS is an analytical tool for education researchers and practitioners analyzing science tasks and instruction. The Delaware DOE modified TAGS to fit into the state’s comprehensive science assessment system, categorizing NGSS-aligned assessment items along a continuum in terms of cognitive load.
This technical brief, developed in collaboration with the Delaware DOE, presents this new model for evaluating these cognitive ranges, and explores:
- How the goals of the NGSS set the stage for how students come to understand the world around them
- Why a multi-dimensional approach to assessment aligns with the expectations of the NGSS
- How cognitive load provides a multi-dimensional perspective of intellectual activity
Also included is an example of a practice item designed to measure cognitive complexities with the new science standards in mind.