Commonwealth of Virginia

Standards of Learning Assessment Program

Blueprints for Grade Eight

Science

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

101 N. 14th Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23219. All rights reserved. Except as permitted by law, this material may not be reproduced or used in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner. Please contact the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education at (804) 225-2102, Division of Assessment and Reporting, to request written permission.

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.

Grade 8: 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 Science for grades 6-8.

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

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

4. Questions will require students to apply previously acquired knowledge and/or to use information that is provided in the question itself.

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

6. 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.

7. The test will be untimed.

8. 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.

9. Students are permitted to use a 4-function calculators during the test.

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

11. Students will be permitted scratch paper at any time 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. Answer choices will be given as written text, numerical expressions including appropriate units, graphics, or other appropriate expressions.

3. 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.

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

C. Ancillary Materials

1. Ruler

2. Calculator

3. Scratch paper

Grade 8: Science

Blueprint Summary Table

 

Reporting Categories

No. of

Items

Grade Six SOLs

Life Science

Physical Science

Scientific Investigation

11

6.1a-k

6.2a-d

LS.1a-j

PS.1a-h

Force, Motion, Energy, and Matter

18

6.3a-c

6.4a-f

6.5a-c

6.6a-c

6.7a, b


PS.2a-e

PS.3

PS.4a, b

PS.5a-c

PS.6a-c

PS.7a, b

PS.8a, b

PS.9a, b

PS.10a, b

PS.11a, b

Life Systems*

7

6.8a, b

LS.2a-d

LS.3a, b

LS.4a-c

LS.5a, b

LS.6a-c

LS.13a-d

LS.14a


Ecosystems

8

6.9a-c

LS.7a-c

LS.8a, b

LS.9a-e

LS.10a-c

LS.11a-c

LS.12a-d


Earth and Space Systems*

6

6.10a-h

6.11a-c

LS.12e

LS.14b, c


SOLs Excluded from This Test: No SOLs are excluded.


Total Number of Operational Items

50

Field-Test Items**

10

Total Number of Items

60

*Standards from the Resources strand are incorporated in this Reporting Category.

**These field-test items will not be used to compute students' scores on the test.

Reporting Category: Scientific Investigation

Number of Items: 11

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category:

6.1 The student will plan and conduct investigations in which

a) observations are made involving fine discrimination between similar objects and organisms;

b) a classification system is developed based on multiple attributes;

c) differences in descriptions and working definitions are made;

d) precise and approximate measures are recorded;

e) scale models are used to estimate distance, volume, and quantity;

f) hypotheses are stated in ways that identify the independent (manipulated) and dependent (responding) variables;

g) a method is devised to test the validity of predictions and inferences;

h) one variable is manipulated over time with many repeated trials;

i) data are collected, recorded, analyzed, and reported using appropriate metric measurement;

j) data are organized and communicated through graphical representation (graphs, charts, and diagrams); and

k) models are designed to explain a sequence.

6.2 The student will demonstrate scientific reasoning and logic. Key concepts include

a) ideas are investigated by asking for and actively seeking information;

b) multiple tests of ideas are performed before accepting or rejecting them;

c) alternative scientific explanations are analyzed; and

d) conclusions are based on scientific evidence obtained from a variety of sources.

Life Science SOLs in This Reporting Category:

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

a) data are organized into tables showing repeated trials and means;

b) variables are defined;

c) SI (metric) units are used;

d) criteria are established for evaluating a prediction;

e) models are constructed to illustrate and explain phenomena;

f) sources of experimental error are identified;

g) dependent variables, independent variables, and constants are identified;

h) variables are controlled to test hypotheses and trials are repeated;

i) continuous line graphs are constructed, interpreted, and used to make predictions; and

j) interpretations from the same set of data are evaluated and defended.

Reporting Category: Scientific Investigation

Number of Items: 11

Physical Science SOLs in This Reporting Category:

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

a) length, mass, volume, density, temperature, weight, and force are accurately measured and reported using the International System of Units (SI - metric);

b) triple beam and electronic balances, thermometers, metric rulers, graduated cylinders, and spring scales are used to gather data;

c) data from experiments are recorded and interpreted from bar, line, and circle graphs;

d) research skills are utilized using a variety of resources;

e) independent and dependent variables, constants, controls, and repeated trials are identified;

f) valid conclusions are made after analyzing data;

g) research methods are used to investigate practical problems and questions; and

h) experimental results are presented in appropriate written form.

Reporting Category: Force, Motion, Energy, and Matter

Number of Items: 18

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category

6.3 The student will investigate and understand sources of energy and their transformations. Key concepts include

a) potential and kinetic energy;

b) energy sources (fossil fuels, wood, wind, water, solar, and nuclear power); and

c) energy transformations (mechanical to electrical, electrical to heat/light, chemical to light, and chemical to electrical/light).

6.4 The student will investigate and understand basic characteristics of electricity. Key concepts include

a) electrical energy can be produced from a variety of energy sources and can be transformed into almost any other form of energy;

b) electricity is related to magnetism;

c) currents are either alternating or direct;

d) circuits can be parallel or series;

e) electrical energy can be described in volts and amps; and

f) electrical energy consumption is measured using common units (kilowatts/kilowatt hours).

Reporting Category: Force, Motion, Energy, and Matter

Number of Items: 18

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

6.5 The student will investigate and understand that all matter is made up of atoms. Key concepts include

a) atoms are made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons;

b) atoms of any element are alike but are different from atoms of other elements; and

c) historical development and significance of discoveries related to the atom.

6.6 The student will investigate and understand how to classify materials as elements, compounds, or mixtures. Key concepts include

a) mixtures can be separated by physical processes;

b) compounds can only be separated by chemical processes; and

c) elements cannot be separated by physical or chemical means.

6.7 The student will investigate and understand that matter has physical and chemical properties and can undergo change. Key concepts include

a) physical changes; and

b) changes in chemical composition, including oxidation reactions (rusting and burning), photosynthesis, and acid-base neutralization reactions.

Physical Science SOLs in This Reporting Category

PS.2 The student will investigate and understand the basic nature of matter. Key concepts include

a) the particle theory of matter;

b) elements, compounds, mixtures, acids, bases, salts, organic, inorganic, solids, liquids, and gases;

c) characteristics of types of matter based on physical and chemical properties;

d) physical properties (shape, density, solubility, odor, melting point, boiling point, color); and

e) chemical properties (acidity, basicity, combustibility, reactivity).

PS.3 The student will investigate and understand various models of atomic structure including Bohr and Cloud (quantum) models.

PS.4 The student will investigate and understand how to use the periodic table of elements to obtain information. Key concepts include

a) symbols, atomic numbers, atomic mass, chemical families, periods, valence numbers, metals, metalloids, and nonmetals; and

b) binary compounds (chemical activity, physical properties, formulas, and nature of bonding).

Reporting Category: Force, Motion, Energy, and Matter

Number of Items: 18

Physical Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

PS.5 The student will investigate and understand changes in matter and the relationship of these changes to the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy. Key concepts include

a) physical changes (effect of temperature on state, particle size on solubility, and temperature on solubility);

b) nuclear reactions (products of fusion and fission and their effects on human beings and the environment); and

c) chemical changes (types of reactions, reactants and products, and balanced equations).

PS.6 The student will investigate and understand states and forms of energy and how energy is transferred and transformed. Key concepts include

a) potential and kinetic energy;

b) mechanical, chemical, and electrical energy; and

c) heat, light, and sound.

PS.7 The student will investigate and understand temperature scales, heat, and heat transfer. Key concepts include

a) absolute zero, phase change, freezing point, melting point, boiling point, conduction, convection, radiation, vaporization, and condensation; and

b) applications of heat transfer (heat engines, thermostats, and refrigeration).

PS.8 The student will investigate and understand characteristics of sound and technological applications of sound waves. Key concepts include

a) wave length, frequency, amplitude, interference; and

b) technological applications of sound.

PS.9 The student will investigate and understand the nature and technological applications of light. Key concepts include

a) reflection, refraction, particle theory, wave theory; and

b) electromagnetic spectrum.

PS.10 The student will investigate and understand scientific principles and technological applications of work, force, and motion. Key concepts include

a) work, force, mechanical advantage, efficiency, power, horsepower, gravitational force, speed/velocity, mass/weight, Newton’s three laws of motion, acceleration; and

b) applications (simple machines, compound machines, powered vehicles, rockets, restraining devices, projectiles).

Reporting Category: Force, Motion, Energy, and Matter

Number of Items: 18

Physical Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

PS.11 The student will investigate and understand basic principles of electricity and magnetism. Key concepts include

a) static, current, circuits; and

b) magnetic fields and electromagnets.

Reporting Category: Life Systems

(Standards from the Resources strand are incorporated in this Reporting Category.)

Number of Items: 7

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category:

6.8 The student will investigate and understand that organisms perform life processes that are essential for the survival and perpetuation of the species. Key concepts include

a) energy transformation (from food or photosynthesis); and

b) respiration, movement, waste removal, growth, irritability (response), and reproduction.

Life Science SOLs in This Reporting Category:

LS.2 The student will investigate and understand that all living things are composed of cells. Key concepts include

a) cell structure and organelles (cell membrane, cell wall, cytoplasm, vacuole, mitochondrion, endoplasmic reticulum, nucleus, and chloroplast);

b) similarities and differences between plant and animal cells;

c) development of cell theory; and

d) cell division (mitosis and meiosis).

LS.3 The student will investigate and understand that living things show patterns of cellular organization. Key concepts include

a) cells, tissues, organs, and systems; and

b) functions and processes of cells, tissues, organs, and systems (respiration, removal of wastes, growth, reproduction, digestion, and cellular transport).

LS.4 The student will investigate and understand that the basic needs of organisms must be met in order to carry out life processes. Key concepts include

a) plant needs (light and energy sources, water, gases, nutrients);

b) animal needs (food, water, gases, shelter, space); and

c) factors that influence life processes.

Reporting Category: Life Systems

(Standards from the Resources strand are incorporated in this Reporting Category.)

Number of Items: 7

Life Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

LS.5 The student will investigate and understand classification of organisms. Key concepts include

a) differences in number, color, size, shape, and texture of external and internal structures; and

b) variation in method of locomotion, obtaining nourishment, and reproduction.

LS.6 The student will investigate and understand the basic physical and chemical processes of photosynthesis and its importance to plant and animal life. Key concepts include

a) energy transfer between sunlight and chlorophyll;

b) transformation of water and carbon dioxide into sugar, water, and oxygen; and

c) photosynthesis as the foundation of food webs.

LS.13 The student will investigate and understand that organisms reproduce and transmit genetic information to new generations. Key concepts include

a) the role of DNA;

b) characteristics that can and cannot be inherited;

c) genetic engineering and its applications; and

d) historical contributions and significance of discoveries related to genetics.

LS.14 The student will investigate and understand that organisms change over time. Key concepts include

a) the relationships of mutation, adaptation, natural selection, and extinction;

Reporting Category: Ecosystems

Number of Items: 8

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category

6.9 The student will investigate and understand that organisms depend on other organisms and the nonliving components of the environment. Key concepts include

a) producers, consumers, and decomposers;

b) food webs and food pyramids; and

c) cycles (water, carbon dioxide/oxygen, nitrogen).

Reporting Category: Ecosystems

Number of Items: 8

Life Science SOLs in This Reporting Category

LS.7 The student will investigate and understand that organisms within an ecosystem are dependent on one another and on nonliving components of the environment. Key concepts include

a) interactions resulting in a flow of energy and matter throughout the system;

b) complex relationships in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems; and

c) energy flow in food chains, food webs, and food pyramids.

LS.8 The student will investigate and understand that interactions exist among members of a population. Key concepts include

a) competition, cooperation, social hierarchy, territorial imperative; and

b) influence of behavior on population interactions.

LS.9 The student will investigate and understand interactions among populations in a biological community. Key concepts include

a) the relationship among producers, consumers, and decomposers in food chains and food webs;

b) the relationship of predators and prey;

c) competition and cooperation;

d) symbiotic relationships and niches; and

e) the role of parasites and their hosts.

LS.10 The student will investigate and understand how organisms adapt to biotic and abiotic factors in a biome. Key concepts include

a) differences between ecosystems and biomes;

b) characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater biomes; and

c) adaptations that enable organisms to survive within a specific biome.

LS.11 The student will investigate and understand that ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms are dynamic and change over time (daily, seasonal, and long term). Key concepts include

a) phototropism, hibernation, and dormancy;

b) factors that increase or decrease population size; and

c) eutrophication, climate change, and catastrophic disturbances.

Reporting Category: Ecosystems

Number of Items: 8

Life Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

LS.12 The student will investigate and understand the relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity. Key concepts include

a) food production and harvest;

b) change in habitat size, quality, and structure;

c) change in species competition; and

d) population disturbances and factors that threaten and enhance species survival.

Reporting Category: Earth and Space Systems

(Standards from the Resources strand are incorporated in this Reporting Category.)

Number of Items: 6

Grade Six SOLs in This Reporting Category

6.10 The student will investigate and understand the organization of the solar system and the relationships among the various bodies that comprise it. Key concepts include

a) the sun, moon, Earth, other planets and their moons, meteors, asteroids, and comets;

b) relative size of and distance between planets;

c) the role of gravity;

d) revolution and rotation;

e) the mechanics of day and night and phases of the moon;

f) the relationship of the Earth’s tilt and seasons;

g) the cause of tides; and

h) the history and technology of space exploration.

6.11 The student will investigate and understand public policy decisions relating to the environment. Key concepts include

a) management of renewable resources (water, air, plant life, animal life);

b) management of nonrenewable resources (coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power); and

c) cost/benefit tradeoffs in conservation policies.

Life Science SOLs in This Reporting Category

LS.12 The student will investigate and understand the relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity. Key concepts include

e) environmental issues (water supply, air quality, energy production, and waste management).

Reporting Category: Earth and Space Systems

(Standards from the Resources strand are incorporated in this Reporting Category.)

Number of Items: 6

Life Science SOLs in This Reporting Category (continued):

LS.14 The student will investigate and understand that organisms change over time. Key concepts include

b) evidence of evolution of different species in the fossil record; and

c) how environmental influences, as well as genetic variation, can lead to diversity of organisms.