Fifth and eighth grade public school students statewide will be taking a new science assessment as part of the Connecticut Mastery Test, or the CMTs.
Inside a classroom at Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, students are learning about astronomy.
"So again are the lunar phases predictive of tides?"
"Yes," a student says.
In this same classroom, students will be taking a science portion of the Connecticut Mastery Test. The 70-minute exam will test studentsâ€™ knowledge of core science concepts, from the earth's changing surface to food contamination and preservation.
Jane Callery is the head of the magnet school's science department. The school focuses on science and technology. Callery sat on the stateâ€™s committee that developed the test and sheâ€™s excited that students will be tested on a new subject.
"We have, especially in the magnet school, kids that come to us with a variety of experiences in science. Some had science in their elementary school, and some children have never had science."
Before this year, the state only tested tenth grade students on science mastery. Callery says eighth graders at her school wonâ€™t be regurgitating definitions on test day but they'll demonstrate their understanding of core concepts.
A typical question might be on energy transfer, how heat from the sun transfers to soil in a container.
School principal Thomas Scarice thinks that his students will be prepared for the test.
"Middle School Science in one word would be explain. That's a primary task of middle school student in science."
He says science sparks kids' curiosity, focusing on the who and the what. On test day, students will take that wonder one step further and show their mastery of scientific inquiry-- a skill they'll need in everyday life.