administration student task rubric student work technical quality
Administration Procedures
Contributed by: Assessment of Performance Unit (APU)


Students examine tadpoles at various stages of development.

Questions in the observation category assess pupils' ability to use a variety of senses to observe data in a certain way- a scientific way. All observing is selective and guided by a purpose. The general purpose in this test is that shared by scientists: discerning regularities, similarities and differences, patterns of various kinds and significant or systematic changes with time.

The assessment reflects a view of observation as the collection and interpretation of real data where little or no initial filtering out of detail has been made. For this reason observation is tested by a variety of practical tasks.

This task is designed to take students approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Life Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Matter, energy, and organization in living systems

Performance Expectations:

  • conducting investigations
  • using equipment
  • gathering, organizing, and representing data
  • formulating conclusions from investigational data

National Science Education Standards:

12 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades 9-12
1.4 Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence. Student inquiries should culminate in formulating an explanation or model. Models should be physical, conceptual, and mathematical. In the process of answering the questions, the students should engage in discussions and arguments that result in the revision of their explanations. These discussions should be based on scientific knowledge, the use of logic, and evidence from their investigation.

8 C LS 2: Reproduction and heredity: Grades 5-8
2.5 The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits. Some traits are inherited and others result from interactions with the environment.

(Use the "hot" link on the PALS home page to check the full text of related National Science Education Standards, if desired.)

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Students will be working individually during this exercise.

Students should be ready to work as soon as the period begins.

Materials for "Tadpoles":

  • 5 tubes labeled P, Q, R, S and T containing tadpoles at different stages of development
    • P  =  young frog - complete tail absorbed
    • Q  =  first stage tadpole showing external gills
    • R  =  2 hind legs; alimentary canal 'coil' visible
    • S  =   no legs; alimentary canal, visible mouth
    • T  =   frog, 4 legs, tail approximately one and a half times body length
  • 1 hand lens
  • 1 piece of display paper

Advance Preparation:

  • Obtain tadpoles at different stages of development
  • Place tadpoles into tubes and label accordingly


  • Be careful.
  • Teachers and students should always exercise appropriate safety precautions and utilize appropriate laboratory safety procedures and equipment when working on science performance tasks.


  • N/A


©1997-2005 SRI International. All rights reserved. Terms of Use