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Authentic Assessment

Authentic Assessment

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Published by: jay on Feb 07, 2010
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Authentic Assessment
In 1935, the distinguished educator Ralph Tyler proposed an "enlarged concept of student evaluation," encompassingother approaches besides tests and quizzes. He urged teachers to sample learning by collecting products of their effortsthroughout the year. That practice has evolved into what is today termed "authentic assessment," which encompasses arange of approaches including portfolio assessment, journals and logs, products, videotapes of performances, and projects.Authentic assessments have many potential benefits. Diane Hart, in her excellent introduction to
 Authentic Assessment: A Handbook for Educators
, suggested the following benefits:1.Students assume an active role in the assessment process. This shift in emphasis may result in reduced test anxietyand enhanced self-esteem.2.Authentic assessment can be successfully used with students of varying cultural backgrounds, learning styles, andacademic ability.3.Tasks used in authentic assessment are more interesting and reflective of students' daily lives.4.Ultimately, a more positive attitude toward school and learning may evolve.5.Authentic assessment promotes a more student-centered approach to teaching.6.Teachers assume a larger role in the assessment process than through traditional testing programs. Thisinvolvement is more likely to assure the evaluation process reflects course goals and objectives.7.Authentic assessment provides valuable information to the teacher on student progress as well as the success of instruction.8.Parents will more readily understand authentic assessments than the abstract percentiles, grade equivalents, andother measures of standardized tests.Authentic assessments are new to most students. They may be suspicious at first; years of conditioning with paper-penciltests, searching for the single right answer, are not easily undone. Authentic assessments require a new way of perceivinglearning and evaluation. The role of the teacher also changes. Specific assignments or tasks to be evaluated and theassessment criteria need to be clearly identified at the start. It may be best to begin on a small scale. Introduce authenticassessments in one area (for example, on homework assignments) and progress in small steps as students adapt.Develop a record-keeping system that works for you. Try to keep it simple, allowing students to do as much of the work as feasible.Types of Authentic AssessmentPerformance AssessmentPortfolio AssessmentSelf-Assessment http://www.teachervision.fen.com/assessment/resource/5944.html
Performance Assessment
Performance assessments require students to demonstrate mastery of a skill or procedure by performing it.Performance assessment has long been a part of the curriculum in certain courses. Directly evaluating astudent's sewing, welding, dancing, typing, piano playing, or woodworking is not a new concept. Directassessments have the advantage of greater validity as the objective being assessed is observed directly. Indirectmeasures, such as a paper-and-pencil test on cooking a souffle, may not accurately predict how well a personwould perform baking a real souffle. Performance assessments are more useful in assessing complex skills andhigh-level understanding. Though not new, the trend toward including live performances and products ineducational assessment schemes has grown in recent years. The growing interest in performance or authenticassessments is largely a reaction to the limitations and disparities of paper-pencil tests.1.The specific events or activities to be assessed are content specific and emerge from the courseobjectives. The tasks may be very brief or long and complex. The performance tasks may be completedindividually or in groups.2.Problem-solving tasks related to real-world problems are often used in performance assessments. Theymay be embedded in a simulated or case study scenario.3.Some schools have adapted a "rite of passage" experience, often required for graduation (Hart, 1994).These might consist of mastery exhibits, oral presentations, a resume, essays, products, artwork, and role plays.4.Any performance task can also be evaluated by peers. It is essential to provide a checklist with theevaluative criteria listed with some form of rating scale for each criterion.Hart, D. (1994).
 Authentic Assessment: A Handbook for Educators
. Menlo Park, CA; Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
What Is Alternative Assessment?
The term alternative assessment is broadly defined as any assessment method that is an alternative to traditional paper-and-penciltests. Alternative assessment requires students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that cannot be assessed using a timed multiple-choice or true-false test. It seeks to reveal students' critical-thinking and evaluation skills by asking students to complete open-endedtasks that often take more than one class period to complete. While fact-based knowledge is still a component of the learning that isassessed, its measurement is not the sole purpose of the assessment.
Alternative assessment is almost always teacher-created and is inextricably tied to the curriculum studied in class. The form of assessment is usually customized to the students and to the subject matter itself.
What does Alternative Assessment look like?
Alternative assessment takes many different forms, according to the nature of the skills and knowledge being assessed. Students areusually asked to demonstrate learning by creating a product, such as an exhibition or oral presentation, or performing a skill, such asconducting an experiment or demonstration.Three variations of alternative assessment are performance-based assessment, authentic assessment, and portfolio assessment. In anygiven situation, more than one form may be involved. A brief description of each follows.
Performance Assessment
This terms refers to the range of assessment activities that give the teacher the opportunity to observe students completing tasks usingthe skills being assessed. For example, in a science class, rather than take a multiple-choice test about scientific experiments, studentsactually conduct a lab experiment and write about their process and choices in a lab report.
Authentic Assessment
 This approach attempts to connect assessment with the real world. It requires students to apply skills and knowledge to the creation of a product or performance that applies to situations outside the school environment. Biology teachers may assess students'understanding of the scientific process and collaboration by having students take part in an annual Audubon Society collection andanalysis of local songbird populations.
Portfolio Assessment
Portfolios usually are comprised of work that has been completed over an entire grading period or semester. Teachers using portfoliosrequire students to review their work and select items that best demonstrate that learning objectives have been met. Often students alsowrite an essay reflecting on what they have learned, including the processes they have used to meet their goals. Portfolios can be paper-based, computer-based, or a combination of both. Ultimately, they should be judged against a predetermined set of criteria andwill provide evidence of the learning that has occurred over time.
How Does It Differ from Traditional Assessment?
In each of these types of assessments, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between study and assessment. This is a hallmark of alternative assessment. Part of the purpose is to make assessment a more meaningful learning experience. However, ascertainingmastery of a skill or subject is still the key objective of assessment.
Teachers usually grade products and performances using a scoring rubric. The rubric consists of a set of detailed standards and explicitcriteria to which the performance or product will be compared. Students are provided the scoring criteria at the onset of instruction andsometimes will even have input into how they will demonstrate their proficiency.
Why Use Alternative Assessment?
Many people attribute the move toward alternative assessment to changes that have occurred in the workplace. In the past, publicschools prepared students for manufacturing jobs that were the backbone of the economy. Schools focused on base skill sets and fact- based knowledge. Paper-and-pencil tests adequately measured the fact-based knowledge used in the old economy.
As the country has moved from manufacturing to an information-based economy, some economists have predicted that the newworkplace will increasingly demand workers with analytical thinking skills. Workers will need to use higher-level thinking skills tosolve complex problems of information management and computing. Alternative assessments help schools prepare students for thecomplex tasks that will be required of them when they become adults by focusing on thinking skills rather than memorization.

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