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What is ONPAR?

ONPAR is an innovative, digital,3-dimensional assessment system developed by the Institute for Innovative Assessment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Visit our website for more information about ONPAR.

How were the tasks developed?

Development of each unit began with a blueprint document. The blueprint unpacked the relevant NGSS performance expectations for a content area and outlined a curriculum which would cover the instructional component in the classroom. The NGSS Evidence Statements for the relevant performance expectations were examined to cue task contexts as well as interactive screen elements. Next, three tasks comprised of about 10 screens each were proposed for the unit. The tasks were storyboarded and built to begin with easier questions and interactives first with more complexity at the end. Each task was internally reviewed and revised at various milestones by an internal team including a linguist, psychometricians and science education specialists, as well as externally reviewed by middle school science educators. Once the storyboard for each task was accepted, the scoring for the screens and feedback was added. Finally, each task was professionally designed and programmed.

What is the role of language in these assessments?

The goal of ONPAR assessments is to reduce language so that it does not confound measurement of content understanding. The language in the assessments is purposeful and all levels of English proficiency were considered. Support words on each screen are those in blue and underlined. These words are supported by pop up images and animations in the upper right corner of the screen, or highlight parts of the screen. The screen text button in the lower right corner provides written text about what is on the screen for students who may want more language, yet the screen text does not provide additional information. Context screens typically pose a question for students to think about, they also provide contextual information for the upcoming screens. Interactive screen language typically starts with a verb and action the student must take on the screen (e.g., Use the tools…, or Explain how…, or Model the relationship…).

What is the role of graphics?

The graphics provide context and give students what they need to demonstrate the concepts being assessed. The graphics are not meant to be used to teach students.

How scientifically accurate are the assessments?

The goal for the assessments is to be as scientifically accurate as we need to be for middle school science. Accuracy serves the purpose of the assessment.

How were these tasks pilot tested with teachers and students?

Each unit was pilot tested in middle school classrooms in locations across the United States. Teachers involved in the pilot study received training and support before they implemented the tasks with students. Cumulatively, over 50 teachers participated in the pilot study which took place over three school years. Data was collected for each student in the pilot study, including state achievement scores, and EL and special education status. School level data on socioeconomic status, demographics, and gender. In order for the results to be used in a psychometric analysis, a minimum of 600 students completed each task in each unit. Some students only completed one unit, while others were involved in the pilot testing of multiple units. The tasks were administered over 40,000 times. The pilot study culminated in an evaluation and revision of each task to increase reliability of results for all students.

What are Mini Tasks?

Mini Tasks are short assessments designed to give students an opportunity to interact with complex item types before taking the full assessment, or to engage in topics not included elsewhere in the unit. Instead of receiving a comprehensive score report at the end of a Mini Task, feedback is provided on each screen. Students have five chances to revise their answers before being forced to move forward. Once a student submits the last screen, a color-coded summary appears describing the results. Green means a screen was correct after one or two tries. Yellow means the screen was correct after three to five tries. Orange means the screen was revised, but a correct answer was never constructed. Red means the screen was incorrect with no revisions. Summary reports appear in both the student and teacher portal. There are one or two Mini Tasks associated with each unit.