NGSS Assessment Design Institute for District Teams

Location: PRISM – Blanton Hall
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning
Montclair State University

To reserve space for your team, call 973-655-7753 or email

December 4, 11, and 18
three-day attendance required
Runs from 8:30am - 2:30pm each day

This program model best serves district-based teams that seek to change their assessment practice and supports on-going work to turnkey the change process in their districts. The program is based on the nationally-vetted program of the Biological Curriculum Study Group. The focus of the model is on middle grades, but has flexibility to scale in either grade-direction. Phenomenon-driven curriculum, task-based assessments, and 3-dimensional learning will be interwoven in the daily experiences. During the three days of professional development and mentored collaboration, teams will:

  • Deepen understanding of what phenomenon-focused, three-dimensional assessments look like. They will experience how the assessment design process results in plans that align with the vision of the NJ State Science standards.
  • Create a locally-relevant blueprint for an instructional unit that is phenomenon-based, that melds together science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concepts, and forms the basis for assessment task writing.
  • Develop formative and summative assessment tasks that align with the NGSS vision.
  • Collaborate to create model assessments while planning to follow the design process with resources provided in the institute to turn-key in the districts.

16.5 Professional Development Hours
$3000 for a team of 2-4 persons for all 3 days. Add team members at $450 per person.

  1. Prepare an instructional map for a unit of study that will reflect the 3 dimensions of the NGSS and is based on anchoring phenomena.  The focus will be on the 5th grade Performance Expectations for Ecosystem Interactions (5-LS2-1) and Earth Systems (5-ESS2-1) with emphasis on the Crosscutting Concept "Systems and Systems Thinking."
  2. Examine your teaching goals for the unit and use them to develop Evidence of Learning Specifications (EOLs). Activities will deepen understanding of Models and Modeling, which is the Practice that is the driver of this portion of the 5th grade curriculum and assessment.
  3. Dissect a sample assessment and use it with your Specifications to design a summative assessment, rubrics, and a student checklist for your unit.  


Jacalyn Willis, Ph.D., founding director of PRISM and research biologist, is a member of the NJ State Leadership Team that advised the NJDOE on the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards. She participated in national trainings in NGSS-aligned curriculum development and pedagogical practices. The PRISM team under her direction has developed effective PD practices during 22 years of federal and state initiatives.

Christopher Hunninghake has been working in the field of education for 30 years. After earning a BA in biology from the University of Virginia, Christopher taught a variety of science courses in both public and private schools in New Jersey. He then earned an MA in educational administration from Rider University and began serving as a high school building administrator and science/math supervisor. Christopher then obtained a Teacher of the Handicapped certificate and returned to the classroom teaching science to students with special needs.

To reserve space for your team, call 973-655-7753 or email