Commonwealth of Virginia

Standards of Learning Assessment Program

Blueprint for the Earth Science Test

©1997 by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education, James Monroe Building,

Standards of Learning (SOL) Test Blueprint

Introduction

What is a test blueprint?

A test blueprint is a guide for test construction and use. The Standards of Learning (SOL) test blueprints serve a number of purposes. One, they serve as a guide to test developers as they write test questions and construct the SOL tests. Two, they serve as a guide to educators, parents and students in that they show (a) the SOLs covered by the test and which, if any, have been excluded; (b) which SOLs are assigned to each reporting category; (c) the number of test items in each reporting category and on the total test; (d) general information about how the test questions were constructed; and (e) the materials that students are allowed to use while taking the test.

How is the test blueprint organized?

There is a blueprint for each test (e.g., grade 3 English, grade 5 mathematics, grade 8 science, U.S. History). Each blueprint contains the following information:

1. Test Development Guidelines: guidelines used by Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement and the members of the Content Review Committees in developing the SOL tests. This section contains three parts:

A. General Considerations — lists general considerations that were used in developing the test as well as considerations specific to a particular content area.

B. Item Format — lists information on how items for the test are constructed.

C. Ancillary Materials — lists any materials (e.g., calculators, rulers, protractors, compasses, dictionaries) that students are allowed to use while taking each test.

2. Blueprint Summary Table: a summary of the blueprint which displays the following information:

• reporting categories for each test;

• number of test items in each reporting category;

• Standards of Learning (SOLs) included in each reporting category. SOLs are identified by numbers and letters that correspond to the original SOL document (letters are assigned to the "bullets" in the original document);

• SOLs which are excluded from the SOL test;

• number of operational items on the test;

• number of field-test items on the test; and

• total number of items (operational and field-test items) on the test.

3. Expanded Blueprint: provides the same information as the Blueprint Summary Table except that the full text of each SOL is included. In addition, SOLs that are excluded from the test are categorized by the reason they were not included.

What is a reporting category?

Each test covers a number of SOLs. In the test blueprint, SOLs are grouped into categories that address related content or skills. These categories are labeled Reporting Categories. For example, a Reporting Category for the Grade 5 Mathematics test is "Computation and Estimation." Each of the SOLs in this reporting category addresses computation using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division or require the student to estimate the answer to a problem. When the results of the SOL tests are reported, the scores will be presented in terms of scores for each Reporting Category and a total test score.

Are some SOLs assigned to more than one reporting category?

"Bullets" under a particular SOL are sometimes coded to different reporting categories. For example, the Science SOL 2.7a which deals with the effects that weather and seasonal changes have on the growth and behavior of living things is assigned to the reporting category "Life Processes and Living Systems" in the Grade 3 Science test. However, SOL 2.7b which deals with the effects of weather and seasonal changes on weathering and erosion of the land surface is assigned to the reporting category "Earth/Space Systems and Cycles." Each "bullet" is assigned to only one reporting category.

Why are some SOLs not tested on the SOL tests?

In some content areas, there are SOLs that do not lend themselves to multiple-choice testing. For example, in English, the oral language SOLs cannot be appropriately assessed in a multiple-choice format. In other cases, an SOL listed in one content area is covered by a similar SOL in another content area. For example, English SOL 4.9 which addresses the use of available technology to research a topic is covered by a similar SOL at grade 5 (Computer/Technology SOL C/T 5.3).

At the end of the blueprint for each test, the SOLs not tested are listed in "SOLs Excluded from Testing." In the expanded blueprint the SOLs excluded from testing are categorized by the reason they are not being tested.

Will all SOLs listed in the blueprint be assessed each time the SOL tests are given?

Due to the large number of SOLs in a content area for a grade span, every SOL will not be assessed on every SOL test form. By necessity, to keep the length of a test reasonable, each test will sample from the SOLs within a reporting category. However, every SOL is eligible for inclusion on each form of an SOL test.

Earth Science Test Development Guidelines

A. General Considerations

1. All items included in this test will address the knowledge and skills specified in the 1995 Virginia Standards of Learning in Earth Science.

2. The items will be free of stereotyping or bias directed at a particular age, gender, economic status, racial, ethnic or religious group, or geographic region.

3. The test will be untimed.

4. There is no penalty for guessing. Students will be scored on the number of correct answers out of the total number of operational items on the test.

5. The questions will be appropriate in terms of understandings and experiences that accompany an active science program.

6. Information will be presented through written text or through visual materials such as graphs, tables, models, or other illustrations.

7. Questions will require students to apply previously acquired knowledge and/or to use information that is provided in a prompt.

8. Measurements will be given in SI (metric), or English units where appropriate.

9. Students will be permitted scratch paper at any time during the test.

10. Students will be permitted to use 4-function calculators during the test.

11. Students will be permitted to use standard (e.g., inches) and metric rulers during the test.

B. Item Format

1. Each item will be a multiple-choice item containing four choices. Choices such as "None of the above," "All of the above," and "Not here" will not be used.

2. Artwork used as part of the question will occur above the question unless the size or format of the artwork lends itself to another arrangement for the sake of clarity.

3. Artwork used as answer choices will appear below the question.

C. Ancillary Materials

1. Rulers

2. Scratch paper

3. Calculators

Earth Science Blueprint Summary Table

Reporting Categories

No. of Items

SOLs

Scientific Investigation

8

ES.1a-e

ES.2a-f

ES.3a-d

Geology

24

ES.4a

ES.5a, b

ES.6a-c

ES.7a-e

ES.8a-c

ES.9a, b

ES.10a-d

Meteorology, Oceanography, and Groundwater

10

ES.4b, d

ES.9c-e

ES.11a-e

ES.12a-e

ES.13a-c

Astronomy and Space Science

8

ES.4c

ES.14a, b

SOLs Excluded from This Test: No SOLs

are excluded.


Total Number

of Operational Items

50

Field-Test Items*

10

Total Number of Items

60

*These field-test items will not be used to compute

students' scores on the test.

Reporting Category: Scientific Investigation

Number of Items: 8

Earth Science SOLs in This Reporting Category:

ES.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which

a) volume, area, mass, elapsed time, direction, temperature, pressure, distance, density, and changes in elevation/depth are calculated utilizing the most appropriate tools;

b) technologies, including computers, are used to collect, analyze, and report data and to demonstrate concepts and simulate experimental conditions;

c) scales, diagrams, maps, charts, graphs, tables, and profiles are constructed and interpreted;

d) variables are manipulated with repeated trials; and

e) a scientific viewpoint is constructed and defended.

ES.2 The student will demonstrate scientific reasoning and logic by

a) analyzing how science explains and predicts the interactions and dynamics of complex Earth systems;

b) recognizing that evidence is required to evaluate hypotheses and explanations;

c) comparing different scientific explanations for the same observations about the Earth;

d) explaining that observation and logic are essential for reaching a conclusion;

e) evaluating evidence for scientific theories related to plate tectonics, the structure of the Earth, and its ancient age and origin; and

f) making informed judgments related to resource use and its effects on Earth systems.

ES.3 The student will investigate and understand how to read and interpret maps, globes, models, charts, and imagery. Key concepts include

a) maps (bathymetric, geologic, topographic, and weather) and star charts;

b) imagery (aerial photography and satellite images);

c) direction and distance measurements on any map or globe; and

d) location by latitude and longitude and topographic profiles.

Reporting Category: Geology

Number of Items: 24

Earth Science SOLs in This Reporting Category:

ES.4 The student will investigate and understand the characteristics of the Earth including

a) plate tectonics.

Reporting Category: Geology

Number of Items: 24

Earth Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

ES.5 The student will investigate and understand how to identify major rock-forming and ore minerals based on physical and chemical properties. Key concepts include

a) properties including hardness, color and streak, luster, cleavage, fracture, and unique properties; and

b) uses of minerals.

ES.6 The student will investigate and understand how to identify common rock types based on mineral composition and textures and the rock cycle as it relates to the transformation of rock types. Key concepts include

a) igneous (intrusive and extrusive);

b) sedimentary (clastic and chemical); and

c) metamorphic (foliated and unfoliated) rocks.

ES.7 The student will investigate and understand the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources. Key concepts include

a) fossil fuels, minerals, rocks, water, and vegetation;

b) advantages and disadvantages of various energy sources;

c) resources found in Virginia;

d) use of resources and their effects on standards of living; and

e) environmental costs and benefits.

ES.8 The student will investigate and understand geologic processes including plate tectonics. Key concepts include

a) how geologic processes are evidenced in the physiographic provinces of Virginia including the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau;

b) processes (faulting, folding, volcanism, metamorphism, weathering, erosion, deposition, and sedimentation) and their resulting features; and

c) tectonic processes (subduction, rifting and seafloor spreading, and continental collision).

ES.9 The student will investigate and understand how freshwater resources are influenced by geologic processes and the activities of humans. Key concepts include

a) processes of soil development; and

b) development of karst topography.

Reporting Category: Geology

Number of Items: 24

Earth Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

ES.10 The student will investigate and understand that many aspects of the history and evolution of the Earth and life can be inferred by studying rocks and fossils. Key concepts include

a) traces or remains of ancient, often extinct, life are preserved by various means in many sedimentary rocks;

b) superposition, cross-cutting relationships, and radioactive decay are methods of dating bodies of rock;

c) absolute and relative dating have different applications but can be used together to determine the age of rocks and structures; and

d) rocks and fossils from many different geologic periods and epochs are found in Virginia.

Reporting Category: Meteorology, Oceanography, and Groundwater

Number of Items: 10

Earth Science SOLs in This Reporting Category:

ES.4 The student will investigate and understand the characteristics of the Earth including

b) water in all three states; and

d) effects of density differences and energy transfer on the activities of the atmosphere, oceans, and Earth’s interior.

ES.9 The student will investigate and understand how freshwater resources are influenced by geologic processes and the activities of humans. Key concepts include

c) identification of groundwater zones including water table, zone of saturation, and zone of aeration;

a) identification of other sources of fresh water including aquifers with reference to the hydrologic cycle; and

b) dependence on freshwater resources and the effects of human usage on water quality.

Reporting Category: Meteorology, Oceanography, and Groundwater

Number of Items: 10

Earth Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

ES.11 The student will investigate and understand that oceans are complex, interactive physical, chemical, and biological systems and are subject to long- and short-term variations. Key concepts include

a) physical and chemical changes (tides, waves, currents, sea level and ice cap variations, upwelling, and salinity concentrations);

b) importance of environmental, geologic, and economic implications;

c) systems interactions (energy transfer, weather, and climate);

d) features of the seafloor (continental margins, trenches, mid-ocean ridges, and abyssal plains) reflect tectonic processes; and

e) public policy issues concerning the oceans.

ES.12 The student will investigate and understand the origin and evolution of the atmosphere and the interrelationship of geologic processes, biologic processes, and human activities on its composition and dynamics. Key concepts include

a) scientific evidence for atmospheric changes over geologic time;

b) current theories related to the effects of early life on the chemical makeup of the atmosphere;

c) comparison of the Earth’s atmosphere to that of other planets;

d) atmospheric regulation mechanisms; and

e) potential atmospheric compositional changes due to human, biologic, and geologic activity.

ES.13 The student will investigate and understand that energy transfer between the sun, Earth, and the Earth’s atmosphere drives weather and climate on Earth. Key concepts include

a) observation and collection of weather data;

b) prediction of weather patterns; and

c) weather phenomena and the factors that affect climate.

Reporting Category: Astronomy and Space Science

Number of Items: 8

Earth Science SOLs in This Reporting Category:

ES.4 The student will investigate and understand the characteristics of the Earth including

c) position of the Earth in the solar system.

ES.14 The student will investigate and understand the planets and other members of the solar system; the history and contributions of the space program; and concepts related to the origin and evolution of the solar system, galaxy, and universe. Key concepts include

a) characteristics of the sun, planets, their moons, comets, meteors, and asteroids; and

b) cosmology and the origin of stars and stellar systems (the Big Bang, the solar nebular theory, stellar evolution, star systems, nebulae, constellations, and galaxies).