This page provides the directions and questions as they were presented to students who took the Electrical Circuits task. In addition, following each question is a sample response, the scoring criteria used to judge performance on the question, and performance data for students in the nation.

In this task, students learn to assemble a simple electrical circuit. Then, students design and conduct an investigation to compare the conductivities of different materials. Finally, students use their knowledge learned from comparing circuits having one or two light bulbs to design and conduct an investigation to determine which of two black boxes contains a light bulb.

See the test booklet.

# Question 2

You will now design an investigation to find out which of three objects (straw, toothpick, and paper clip) will conduct electricity.

• Open the packet containing the straw, toothpick, and paper clip.

• You may use any of the materials in your kit except Box A and Box B. These will be used in Part 4 of the task.

Before you test the three objects in your circuit, predict which of the three objects will conduct electricity. (You may fill in more than one oval.)

Sample correct student response:

Explain how you know using your knowledge of what types of materials conduct electricity.

Sample correct student response:

# Question 2: Scoring Guide

Score and Description

Complete:

Student response selects (C) Paper clip, and explains that the paper clip is made of metal (and metal conducts electricity). Response does not select any other objects.

Partial:
Student response selects (C) Paper clip, and provides no explanation or states that metal other than the paper clip conducts electricity. Response does not select any other objects.

OR

Student response selects (A) Straw, and/or (B) Toothpick along with (C), and indicates that the paper clip is metal.

OR

Student response selects (A) Straw or (B) Toothpick or makes no selection, and indicates metal (conducts electricity) in the explanation.

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect:
Student response is inadequate or incorrect

Percentage of fourth-grade students in each response category: 2009
Complete Partial Unsatisfactory/ incorrect Omitted
59 10 30 #
# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.

# Question 3

Decide how you will place each object into your circuit to find out if the object conducts electricity. Draw and label a diagram of your circuit in the box below. You may use symbols for the parts of your circuit, as shown below.

Do not worry about how well you draw.

Sample correct student response:

# Question 3: Scoring Guide

Score and Description

Complete:
Student response shows a complete circuit connected in series using symbols and/or drawings of the materials included in the circuit diagram. The diagram includes wire, battery, light bulb, and one of the objects (straw, toothpick, or paper clip.) All symbols for the battery, light bulb, and object are labeled in the diagram.

Essential:
Student response shows a complete circuit connected in series using symbols and/or drawings of the materials included in the circuit diagram. The diagram includes wire, battery, light bulb, and one of the objects (straw, toothpick, or paper clip.) Some or all labels are missing in the diagram.

OR

Student response shows a complete circuit connected in series using symbols and/or drawings of the materials included in the circuit diagram. The diagram includes wire, battery, and light bulb. A label is included for one of the objects (straw, toothpick, or paper clip), but the symbol for the object is not drawn.

Partial:
Student response shows a complete circuit connected in series using symbols and/or drawings of the materials included in the circuit diagram. The diagram includes wire, battery, light bulb, and two or more of the objects (straw, toothpick, paper clip.) Labels may or may not be included in the diagram.

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect:
Student response is inadequate or incorrect.

Percentage of fourth-grade students in each response category: 2009
Complete Essential Partial Unsatisfactory/ incorrect Omitted
10 26 1 61 2
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because the percentage of responses rated as “Off-task” is not shown. Off-task responses are those that do not provide any information related to the assessment task.

# Question 4

Now, test all three objects and write down what you observed in Table 1 below.

Sample correct student response:

TABLE 1: OBSERVATIONS

# Question 4: Scoring Guide

Score and Description

This item was scored in three parts.

Part A: Observations from testing the straw
Part B: Observations from testing the toothpick
Part C: Observations from testing the paper clip

Part A:

Complete:
Student response provides a valid observation indicating that the straw does not conduct electricity. Response indicates that the light bulb does not light or the straw does not get warm.  Response may or may not state that the straw does not conduct electricity.

Partial:
Student response indicates that the straw does not conduct electricity. There is no mention of the light bulb remaining off or of the straw not getting warm.

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect:
Student response is inadequate or incorrect.

Part B:

Complete:
Student response provides a valid observation indicating that the toothpick does not conduct electricity. Response indicates that the light bulb does not light or the toothpick does not get warm.  Response may or may not state that the toothpick does not conduct electricity.

Partial:
Student response indicates that the toothpick does not conduct electricity. There is no mention of the light bulb remaining off or of the toothpick not getting warm.

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect:
Student response is inadequate or incorrect.

Part C:

Complete:
Student response provides a valid observation indicating that the paper clip conducts electricity. Response indicates that the light bulb lights up or the paper clip gets warm. Response may or may not state that the paper clip conducts electricity.

Partial:
Student response indicates that the paper clip conducts electricity. There is no mention of the light bulb lighting up or of the paper clip getting warm.

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect:
Student response is inadequate or incorrect.

Composite Score:

Student response received one of three possible composite scores (Complete, Partial, Unsatisfactory/Incorrect) based on the student's combined performance on Parts A, B, and C of the item. For example, a student response Complete for Part A, Complete for Part B, and Partial for Part C received a composite score of Partial.

Composite Score

Scores for Parts A, B, C

Complete

Complete for all 3 parts

Partial

Complete for 2 parts and Partial for 1 part

Complete for 1 part and Partial for 2 parts

Partial for 3 parts

Complete for 1 part, Partial for 1 part, and Unsatisfactory/Incorrect for 1 part

Partial for 2 parts and Unsatisfactory/Incorrect for 1 part

Complete for 1 part and Unsatisfactory/Incorrect for 2 parts

Partial for 1 part and Unsatisfactory/Incorrect for 2 parts

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect for 3 parts

Percentage of fourth-grade students in each response category: 2009
Complete Partial Unsatisfactory/ incorrect Omitted
34 27 34 4
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.

# Question 5

Based on what you saw, which of the three objects conduct(s) electricity? (You may fill in more than one oval.)

Sample correct student response:

Explain how you know using your observations in Table 1.

Sample correct student response:

# Question 5: Scoring Guide

Score and Description

Complete:
Student response selects (C) Paper clip, and no other objects. The selection is consistent with and supported by the observations stated in Table 1. The response provides a correct explanation indicating that when the paper clip is placed in the circuit, the light bulb lights up. Observations may be recorded in this response (item 5) rather than in Table 1 (item 4).

Essential:
Student response selects (C) Paper clip, and no other objects. The selection is consistent with and supported by the observations stated in Table 1. The response provides an inadequate or no explanation about the observations.

OR

Student response selects (C) Paper clip, and no other objects. The selection is not supported nor contradicted by the observations. The response provides a correct explanation indicating that when the paper clip is placed in the circuit, the light bulb lights up.

OR

Student response selects (C) Paper clip and other objects, or just other objects, or none of the objects. The selection(s) is(are) consistent with and supported by observations stated in Table 1. The response provides a correct explanation indicating that when the selected object is placed in the circuit, the light bulb lights up. If the response does not select any of the objects, then it explains that when placed in the circuit the light bulb does not light up for any of them.

OR

Student response selects (C) Paper clip and other objects, or just other objects, or none of the objects. The selection(s) is(are) not supported nor contradicted by the observations stated in Table 1. The response provides a correct explanation indicating that when the selected object is placed in the circuit, the light bulb lights up. If the response does not select any of the objects, then it explains when placed in the circuit the light bulb does not light up for any of them.

Partial:
Student response selects (C) Paper clip, and no other objects. The selection is neither supported nor contradicted by the observations stated in Table 1. The observations in Table 1 may be missing or not stated as observations that would indicate whether the object conducts electricity. The response provides an inadequate or no explanation about the observations, but may explain that metals conduct electricity.

OR

Student response selects (C) Paper clip and other objects, or only other objects, or no objects. The selection(s) is(are) supported by the observations stated in Table 1. The response provides an inadequate or no explanation.

OR

Student response selects any or none of the objects. The selection(s) is (are) contradicted by the observations stated in Table 1. The response provides a correct explanation stating that when the selected object is placed in the circuit the light bulb lights up. If the response does not select any of the objects, then it explains that when placed in the circuit the light bulb does not light up for any of them.

Unsatisfactory/Incorrect:
Student response is inadequate or incorrect.

Percentage of fourth-grade students in each response category: 2009
Complete Essential Partial Unsatisfactory/ incorrect Omitted
18 29 38 12 3
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because the percentage of responses rated as “Off-task” is not shown. Off-task responses are those that do not provide any information related to the assessment task.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2009 Science Assessment.