Assessment Items

The assessment items are our attempt to assess argumentation, mostly in the context of the structure and behavior of matter. All items require students to engage in argument from evidence. Specifically, the items ask students to coordinate evidence with claims and reasoning, and to defend and critique arguments made by others. We encourage you to use the items with your students and to develop curriculum and assessments of scientific argumentation!

Relevant NGSS Standards

Scientific Practice: Engaging in Argument from Evidence

NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea:

PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Chopping Onions

Mark and Kian make claims about what causes eyes to water when onions are cut.

Mixing Sugar and Water

Laura and Mary make claims about whether or not sugar is still there after it has been mixed into water.

Bubbles in Water

Brian and Joe make arguments for what the bubbles in boiling water are made of.

Facts about Gases

Casey and Jesse are given three facts about gases, which they use to engage in argument from evidence.


Johnny and Sally make claims about the location of gas particles in a container.

Set of Blocks

Jordan and Casey make claims about whether blocks are hollow.


The governor’s advisors provide two methods of desalination.

Something in the Air

Imara and Alexis make claims about where the water on the outside of a cold glass of water comes from.

NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea:

LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience


Sophie and Tina engage in argument about the reason purple loosestrife is a successful invasive species.

Non-scientific content

School Lunches

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced a change in the guidelines for school lunch programs. Should schools in San Francisco adopt the new program?