This study builds on prior research of a genetics learning environment to consider how motivation and learning are impacted by new formative assessment practices and by the practices associated with accountability-oriented reforms. Secondary life science teachers will implement the GenScope computer software within a curricular context that is consistent with contemporary views of learning and instruction (such as outlined in the recent National Research Council report, How People Learn). Within this context, students in different classes will be presented with increasingly explicit learning standards and increasingly salient recognition or ewards for performance on a set of formative assessments. Following the framework advanced by Greeno, Collins and Resnick in the 1996 Handbook of Educational Psychology, engagement and learning in each class will be examined using three competing models of knowing & learning. The results should provide comprehensive evidence regarding new and controversial assessment practices-when employed in contemporary curricular contexts. More broadly, the entire set of results will be used to compare different approaches for reconciling competing models of knowing and learning. This is expected to help clarify the relations between competing perspectives and practices, particularly concerning engagement and the motivation. This clarification is critical for developing a new pragmatic model of motivation that is relatively consistent with contemporary models knowing and learning.