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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Test Design and Development

Cognitive Skill Level Descriptions for STE MCAS Items

Each STE MCAS item is aligned to one of the following cognitive skill levels, based on the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy:

  • Understanding / Level 1
  • Applying / Level 2
  • Analyzing & Evaluating / Level 3

Assessment staff have described these cognitive skill levels for the types of items developed for the MCAS STE tests. These descriptions have been updated for the next-generation STE tests to include the science practices. The updated descriptions for each STE MCAS test are below.

These descriptions are not an exhaustive list. How an item is written, including the stem and the options (key and distractors), may contribute to the cognitive skill level assigned to the item. The cognitive skill level may also depend on student experiences, such as certain investigations or experiments they are familiar with. In addition, the grade level at which the question is being asked is also a consideration. A cognitive skill level is assigned to each item based on how the majority of Massachusetts students will interact with the item. The cognitive skill level assigned to each item is reviewed by an Assessment Development Committee (group of educators who review MCAS items for a particular content area and grade level).

Current Cognitive Skill Level Descriptions

Last Updated: September 16, 2022

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