Why was PALS made?

PALS is an on-line, standards-based, continually updated resource bank of science performance assessment tasks. The PALS site was developed by the Center for Technology and Learning at SRI International to:

  • Meet the need for innovative approaches for sharing exemplary assessment resources
  • Facilitate the development of new assessments and modification of existing assessments
  • Further the understanding of how the use of standards-based performance assessment advances educational reform

Performance assessments are generally valued for testing students' deep understanding of concepts and inquiry strategies, for making students' thinking visible, and for measuring skills in communicating about their science knowledge. In addition, performance assessments can present authentic, real-world problems that help students to show they can apply academic knowledge to practical situations. On the other hand, performance assessments are time-consuming and costly to develop, logistically demanding, and of questionable utility if not developed and scored according to sound measurement methods. The exponential advances taking place in technology promise to revolutionize assessment practices and education reform and SRI International is proud to be at the forefront of this movement with the creation of PALS.

What are the sources of PALS Materials?
PALS resources result from the collaboration of many educators to provide assessment materials and resources. Experienced assessment programs, such as reference exams, contribute standards-based science assessment tasks with documented technical quality to the PALS on-line library. Accountability Pool developers and collaborators make available password-protected, secure tasks accessible only to approved assessment program staff. Teachers and administrators provide their helpful tips and creative ideas on our discussion boards for implementing PALS tasks.

The PALS resource library provides large, continually updated collections including:

  • Professional Development Pool- resources that are of documented technical quality and have been released for access by teachers and professional development groups that teachers may administer as part of their classroom assessments, adapt them, or use them as models for developing similar investigations
  • Assessment Planning Charts- helps users design test administration forms that cover important science standards to display coverage of standards by the performance tasks selected by the user
  • Science Performance Assessment Library- includes scoring rubrics designed to judge the quality of student responses to a task or set of tasks with a library of exemplars of scored student work to bring meaning to the scoring rubrics and tasks and rubrics also have been subjected to content validity and bias reviews
  • On-line Rater Training- assists each agency wishing to take advantage of the PALS system to convert traditional, stand-up training procedures and calibration to written form, assemble training packets, and test their effectiveness in on-line delivery