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Strengthening DC Science

At OSSE, we are committed to ensuring our DC Science Assessment is meaningful and high-quality for our students

The DC Science Assessment (DC Science) is the assessment used across schools in DC to help understand how well students are learning in the subject of science. A student will take DC Science three times in the course of their K-12 education: in grades 5 and 8 as well as when he or she takes Biology in high school. At OSSE, we have the important responsibility of administering statewide testing. Recently, as we were performing due diligence on the 2017 scores for the DC Science Assessment, we identified several important and egregious errors on behalf of the vendor. As such, the District of Columbia has made the decision to cancel the contract with the vendor who designed and scored the test. Other assessments, such as PARCC English language arts (ELA) and math, are not affected by this action, and we have full confidence in those assessments. We have thorough and rigorous processes to ensure the validity of PARCC and our other state assessments, and independent verification of the quality of these assessments.

Please be advised that:

  • Scores for students who took the 2016 DC Science Assessment are no longer valid and will be retracted;
  • Scores for students who took the 2017 DC Science Assessment will not be released;
  • There will be no 2018 DC Science Assessment; and
  • DC will embark on the development of a new assessment of the NGSS for release in 2019. This will be a collaborative process including LEAs, educators, and national experts.

Please note that DC Science scores are not currently used by schools for grading or promotion of students. While not having a test removes one of the tools available to measure and understand student learning, student progress and learning will continue to be evaluated by other methods at the school level, including classwork and school- and classroom-level tests.

At OSSE, we know that any time our students spend taking assessments is important. We have taken this extraordinary step to demonstrate our commitment to a valid and reliable statewide assessment program. We are thankful to OSSE’s assessment staff for their meticulousness in discovering the initial errors in the scores; their perseverance in uncovering broader anomalies in the data as they conducted their year-over-year diligence; and the patience and thought leadership they’ve shown as we have worked to resolve this matter and create a path forward to ensure our students have a test that meets the standards we set for them. We are committed to moving swiftly to develop a new, high-quality assessment and to keeping our schools and the public abreast of updates.


Read the full press release  | Download the FAQs  | Download the parent letter template (for LEAs and schools) English  Spanish | Download a guide to helping parents understand assessement and Next Generation Science Standards (for LEAs and schools)


For LEAs and schools, contact [email protected]
For parents and families, contact [email protected] or (202) 654-6120
For media, contact [email protected]