A. Defining Performance
Targets and Tasks
Although objective assessments are very common in K-12 classrooms
and on standardized tests, there are many critics who feel objective
assessments do not adequately assess student learning. Whereas it
is quite easy to measure students' knowledge about a subject using
a multiple-choice quiz, objective assessments do not indicate whether
or not the student can apply that knowledge. For example, a student
may perform well on a mathematics quiz, but be unable to make correct
Performance assessments have the advantage of being able to provide
clear evidence of students' achievements. In addition, they are
useful for a wide range of classroom activities, including essays,
science projects, public speaking, and multimedia projects. Performance
assessment is an excellent method for addressing skills at the higher
levels of Bloom's taxonomy. Watch the video Assessment for Understanding
from the Edutopia website (edutopia.org) to review some of the advantages
and applications of performance assessment.
The first step in creating a performance assessment is defining
the target -- determining what is it you are going to assess. This
can generally be accomplished by reviewing the standards and objectives.
For example, the following benchmarks clearly require assessments
other than objective quizzes.
- Language Arts (3-5): Responds to speakers by asking questions,
making contributions, and paraphrasing what is said.
- Science (3-5): Determines that the properties of materials
(e.g., density and volume) can be compared and measured (e.g.,
using rulers, balances, and thermometers).
- Visual Arts (6-8): Creates two-dimensional and three-dimensional
works of art that reflect competency and craftsmanship gained
from the visual arts that can enhance and deepen understanding
- Mathematics (6-8): Constructs, interprets, and uses scale
drawings such as those based on number lines and maps to solve
- Language Arts (9-12): Writes text, notes, outlines, comments,
and observations that demonstrate comprehension and synthesis
of content, processes, and experiences from a variety of media.
After the target is defined, the next step is to create a task
that will allow the students to demonstrate their knowledge, reasoning,
skills, and/or attitudes. These tasks should be authentic (real-world),
feasible (in time, space, and cost), fair (not biased based on gender,
race, etc.), flexible (allow multiple outcomes), and observable.
For example, the performance task may be that students conduct a
science experiment, create a clay sculpture, or write a position
paper that advocates a change in the school dress code. After the
task is defined, a rubric can be developed to assess the task.