AAAS Testing Gives New Insight on What Students Know and Their Misconceptions

The new AAAS website ( presents detailed information on how a national sample of middle and high school students answered each question, along with an analysis of both their correct and incorrect responses to assess whether students truly understand the science concepts they are being taught. The site also features information on hundreds of misconceptions students have about everything from the size of atoms to whether all organisms have DNA.

Knowing these misconceptions and how pervasive they are—which is not typically part of the analysis of test results from state testing or from leading national and international testing organizations—can help teachers improve instruction and better design their own test questions

In addition to the test questions themselves, the website includes data on student performance by gender, grade level, and whether or not English is the student’s primary language. Each question typically was answered by at least 2000 students in field tests involving school districts across the nation. In 2010, for example, more than 90,000 students in 814 schools participated in the field tests. Project 2061 researchers also conducted on-site interviews with students to gauge the effectiveness of the questions.

Read more about the new website at