1. How much of my child's grade is based on testing?
Approximately 60% of you child's science grade is based upon tests and quizzes.

2. Isn't this more than other classes?
It is not more than most other high school science classes. Remember this is a ninth grade honors class being taught at junior high.

3. Shouldn't more of the grade be based on homework and labs?
Tests, unlike homework and labs, are one of the few methods to individually assess what a student has learned.

4. My son or daughter seems to do fine on homework and labs, but has difficulty on tests.
There are a variety of possibilities that this may occur. Keep in mind most of the homework deals with a very narrow range of the material. Therefore a student might be able to handle a few narrow questions fairly effectively, but have difficulty when the test covers a broader range of concepts. Some students become anxious during a test and tend to make mistakes. Other students may be very slow readers. Generally speaking there is enough time for the average to slightly below average honors student to complete the test.

5. Do students have a chance to review each test to review the mistakes which they may have made?
Yes. Students usually review the tests during class. They may always review them before or after school.

6. Can students take the a copy of the test home?
No. However, they may always review them before or after school. Parents are welcome to come to school to review the test with their child.

7. Does my child have to get 90% of the questions right to get an "A" on a test?
No. The results of the test are curved. Generally speaking the top scoring students will get 78-85% of the questions correct. There is no limit to the number of students who may receive "A" grades.

8. What is the difference in the three levels of questions which you place on the test?
Level One is strictly memorization. Level Two involved interpretation or computation. Level Three involves application. For most students, non-honors classes seldom ask Level Two or Level Three questions. As a result, many students are not accustomed to having to "think" about an answer rather than repeat what they have heard.

9. What is an example of a Level One question?
Prentice Hall explains that temperature is a measurement of the average Kinetic energy within a substance. A Level One question would ask:

Which of the following is the best definition of temperature?

a. The total amount of heat a substance contains
b. The average Kinetic energy a substance contains**
c. The total potential energy a substance contains
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

10. What is an example of a Level Two question?
The instructor and textbook explains that when there is more force acting to move an object than there is resisting movement the object will move and there will be a positive net force. Conversely if an object remains motionless it will have a zero net force. In other words, the forces acting to move it and the forces acting to resist movement are equal. A Level Two question would ask:

A book which weighs 2 Newtons is resting motionless on a desk which weighs 10 Newtons. What is the net force acting on the book?

a. 0 Newtons**
b. 2 Newtons
c. 8 Newtons
d. 12 Newtons
e. None of the above

In the example above many students answer 8 Newtons, because they subtract the weight of the book from the weight of the desk. However, the concept they needed to understand is that "All objects which are motionless have zero net force acting on them". It does not matter what the weight of the desk was. The weight of the desk was not a factor in this problem. The weight of the desk was acting on the floor and not on the book.

11. What is an example of a Level Three question?
The instructor and textbook explains that when salt is mixed ice, at or near the freezing point of ice, it will melt and become a liquid solution. Previous chapters of the textbook had described the extremely cold temperatures of northern Canada during the winter. A Level Three question would ask:

Salt is frequently used on icy roads during the winter in portions of Midwestern United States. Why isn't salt likely to be used on the roads of North Central Canada during the middle of the winter?

a. Warm Pacific Air heats up Northern Canada
b. Northern Canada has no source of salt
c. Temperatures in Northern Canada are too cold**
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

In the example above some students have difficulty integrating what they have learned. Approximately 74% of the students answered this question incorrectly on their tests. They have read about Northern Canada and know that it is extremely cold in the winter. They have read about salt and know that is can melt ice, when it is near its freezing point. The "A" students easily answer the question, because they can connect the information. Other students may have more difficulty.

12. Do you have any other examples of a Level Three Question?
Yes. The instructor and textbook explain that the density of a medium, such as air, affects the frequency of a sound. Helium is less dense than air and allows sound to travel in a higher frequency from its source. The instructor also explains that if a person tries to talk after inhaling some Helium that his voice will sound very high. A Level Three question would ask:

Krypton (84) is an an inert, non-reactive, gas that is much denser than the earth's atmospheric air. What effect do you think that it would have on a individual who breathed it in and tried to talk?

a. It would poison the individual who breathed it in
b. It would tend to lower the individual's voice**
c. It would cause them to talk faster
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

Approximately 76% of the class answered this question incorrectly. Although students have learned that the less dense a medium is the high the frequency a sound is likely to be when vibrations occur created, some students can not relate that to a specific example of Krypton (84). As a result the information which they have learned has relatively little application to for them.

If a student is going to be successful learning and showing what he or she has learned on tests, he or she needs to be able to extrapolate from a specific example to a general concept or use a general concept to interpret specific examples. Many students can only cite specific examples or state general concepts. They struggle to apply these ideas in any meaningful way.