You are on page 1of 12

Alternative Assessment

What Is Alternative Assessment?

The term alternative assessment is broadly defined as any assessment method that is an alternative to traditional paper-and-pencil
tests. 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-ended
tasks that often take more than one class period to complete. While fact-based knowledge is still a component of the learning that is
assessed, 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 are
usually asked to demonstrate learning by creating a product, such as an exhibition or oral presentation, or performing a skill, such as
conducting an experiment or demonstration.
Three variations of alternative assessment are performance-based assessment, authentic assessment, and portfolio assessment. In any
given 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 using
the skills being assessed. For example, in a science class, rather than take a multiple-choice test about scientific experiments, students
actually 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 and
analysis 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 portfolios
require students to review their work and select items that best demonstrate that learning objectives have been met. Often students also
write 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 and
will 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, ascertaining
mastery 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 explicit
criteria to which the performance or product will be compared. Students are provided the scoring criteria at the onset of instruction and
sometimes 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, public
schools 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 new
workplace will increasingly demand workers with analytical thinking skills. Workers will need to use higher-level thinking skills to
solve complex problems of information management and computing. Alternative assessments help schools prepare students for the
complex tasks that will be required of them when they become adults by focusing on thinking skills rather than memorization.
Assessment as a Tool for Learning
by Jill Hearne

Assessment! For teacher, the word conjures up images of late night grading sessions prior to report card deadlines. For
principals, it conjures up phone calls from media and parents demanding "bigger, better" scores. To a superintendent, the
word "assessment" is often related to job tenure. For students it signifies the judgment of others regarding work they may
or may not understand or care about. But assessment can have positive connotations and consequences when it is used as a
tool for learning. Sound assessment should be both a barometer of how well things are progressing as well as a compass
indicating future direction.

Throughout the United States principals and district administrators engaged in meaningful school reform are working with
their communities to share assessment information to guide decision-making about curriculum and instruction. The result
is that there is a shift from using assessment as a negative force in schools to a positive force that builds a climate of
reflection about what is going on in classrooms

When I was a principal, we had a social skills program where staff would give "coupons" to students seen "doing things
right" (i.e. being helpful good citizens). An ideal school would treat assessment in the same way. Students, staff, and
principals should be rewarded for using assessment as a tool for learning rather than simply rewarding right answers.

The Changing Scope of Assessment

The shift in consciousness from assessment data as organizational hammer to its use as a tool in strategic planning is slow
but critical if we in school are to truly develop learning organizations. Recently a group of highly educated mainly Ph.D.
parents assembled to critique a new standards-based report card. Teachers had spent months laying out developmental
descriptions of reading, math and language skills with carefully worded and ordered phrases such as: "recalls some story
details", "recalls major story events", "recalls relevant passage details", "summarizes passages concisely", "makes
references and draws conclusions". Each description defined a level of skill students could be expected to attain in a
particular age bond such as ages 5-7, 7 to 9 years, etc.

After studying this new report card form in some length, one of the parents raised his hand and said, "Oh! So this is what
you do in school?" This innocent and honest question revealed for me the essential error those of us in school have made
for all these years. Our error has been the assumption that what we did as instructors was clearly evident and known to all
participants, students, parents and teachers.

But in fact we have not been clear. We have not made it clear to students what is to be learned, we have not made it clear
to parents how well students are to perform, and we have not agreed as educational communities on what learning or
knowledge is of most worth. Lacking consensus on knowledge, skills and understandings perhaps it is a functional
solution to be vague about data, about student learning (assessment information).

As students are no longer being educated to perform rote tasks focused on knowledge and understanding, so too must
teachers be supported as they acquire adult learning skills as creators and users of assessment information and not passive
deliverers of curriculum prepackaged by a distant textbook publishing company. The movement toward teachers being
makers and users of assessment data reflects the shift from teacher as assembly line worker to lifetime learner (Bullard, p.

Principals, teachers, students and the community can come together around sound principles of assessment to create
learning experiences that matter. Data on student outcomes individually and collectively comes center stage as all the
members of the school community discuss three critical questions regarding quality. Staff and parents ask themselves
these same critical questions about quality that they can also use to teach students to ask about their work:

* What am I doing?
* How well am I doing it? (in relationship to established criteria)
* What do I need to do to improve? (Hearne, 1992)

A key question to ask is: "What is the match between what our goals are and how we are assessing?"

Assessment Literacy

In student Involved Classroom Assessment, Richard Stiggins (2001) engages in a particularly useful discussion about the
match between assessment method and assessment targets. He discusses the four main types of assessment methods:
selected response (multiple choice, true/false, matching, and fill in) essay, performance assessment and personal

For assessing knowledge and mastery, selected response methods are parsimonious. They allow a quick, accurate
inexpensive means of finding out what is known about a subject or area. Essay responses can also show knowledge and
also allow for indications of reasoning proficiency.

Performance assessments are too expensive and time consuming to be used at the fact-recall-knowledge mastery level, but
they allow for observation of skills during performance and assess proficiency in carrying out steps in developing a
product. Personal communication has strength at each level from knowledge through skills, product creation and
disposition about learning, but is not efficient at each level. (Stiggins, 2001).

Sound assessment results only when there is a clear purpose for assessment, clear and appropriate targets, proper methods,
an appropriate sample of the targets, and elimination of bias and distortion in measurement. Stiggins proposes that these
five principles guide sound assessment practices.

1. Is the purpose of the assessment clear?

2. Is the target achievement clear and appropriate?
3. What methods do the target and purpose suggest are appropriate?
4. How can we sample performances appropriately, given target, purpose and method?
5. What can go wrong, given target, purpose and method, and how can we prevent bias and distortion? (Stiggins, p. 15)

When answered with understanding, this results in assessment literacy. Stiggins (2001) states that those who know the
meaning of assessment quality with all of its nuances and know that one is never justified in settling for unsound
assessments are assessment literate.

At the school level, understanding the match between method and student outcomes is critical. Also critical is an
awareness of audience. Who needs to know what information and in what time frame? The needs of school board
members are very different from the needs of parents or students.

As you examine your assessment menu in your school, remember to include parents and students in discussions of quality.
Provide opportunities for each to truly understand what is being measured, what evidence is considered proficient or
"good enough" and most importantly to see the link between the assessment and instructional complications.

Unless assessment results are used to make issues of quality part of everyday conversation in schools, they will not
change instruction. This is where the assessment revolution is actually taking place-- in the use of assessment data to
drive decision-making. The difference is that "data" takes on a richer meaning when that "data" is actual student work
instead of numbers representing a normative version of student work.

Certainly, normative data has a place, and there are clear advantages of using normative data for program planning as well
as building and district evaluation. Consistency over time, ability to look at trend data, comparability between school
systems at a regional, state, or international level are a few of the benefits.

Using Multiple Measures

Utilizing multiple measures of student learning that include actual student work builds a community of learners. No one
test or assessment can give a clear picture of student achievement which is why several states (Washington, Maryland,
Maine) and districts (Seattle, Washington, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina) have incorporated multiple measures
including classroom-based evidence as part of their total accountability system.
Student work, however, becomes data when it is scored using commonly understood criteria and reflected upon for the
purpose of improving instruction. Not only is the process of scoring student work an important process for members of a
school community to go through to communicate and internalize common standards, it is also a powerful staff
development tool for improving instruction.

A useful organizational structure for using student work as data is suggested here as a seven step process schools can use
to assess student learning.

1. Decide what skill cluster to assess and select a broad assessment that captures more than one attribute of the domain.
2. Construct or use existing scoring guides or rubrics for the task.
3. Share the task and scoring criteria with staff.
4. Administer the task to students in a similar time frame.
5. Spend time discussing the scoring criteria and agreeing on anchor papers. (Anchor papers are a few papers from each
score point that represent the quality expressed in the criteria.)
6. Rate the student's papers. It is often useful to have the papers noted by a teacher who is not the students' own
instructor for the subject.
7. Compare ratings, discuss and formulate implications for instructional delivery.
8. Data can be reported in terms of the percentage of students meeting the criteria at the various points.

In using multiple measures one can get a clearer picture of student achievement over time at the district and building level
as well as at the student level. Examples of multiple measures used by our schools include student work, classroom based
assessments, schoolwide assessments, as well as district and state assessments. Both normative and standards based
information is valued. Each school community matches its philosophy, instructional strategies and assessments to its
goals to accomplish its mission. While the approaches at each site differ, this alignment drives school effectiveness.

In each school community there is an emphasis on multiple forms of data to answer questions of process quality, and
effectiveness. There is a continual search for evidence that is student centered and captures the richness of each school
experience. This search for authenticity makes each person a learner. There is a shift from what Le Mahieu (1966) terms
"accounting" for school achievement to authentic accountability, which redefines the lines of responsibility from the
blame game to interactive reciprocal responsibility.

Learning from Sound Assessment

When assessment results are used as a barometer to measure the strength of learning and as a compass to show the
direction of future action, all participants become learners. . As the social and political context of schooling requires
greater accountability decision makers in schools must become more able to use information in all forms in the best
interest of students.

The new view of leadership in learning organizations centers on subtler and more important tasks. In a learning
organization leaders are designers, stewards and teachers. They are responsible for building organizations where people
continually expand their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision and improve mental models-- that is they are
responsible for learning. (Senge, 1990.) Principals as learners, teachers as learners, community members as learners are
all part of this merging paradigm of schools as dynamic rather than static organizations.

Principals as learners: Principals model learning and are themselves learners as they seek better ways to structure school
time, allocate resources and motivate staff. Principals are the key to managing and creating the culture of reflective
teaching that expects and teaches to the concept of "what good work looks like around here. "

Principals can:

1. Utilize multiple measures to create a building based assessment system that links classrooms and students over time.
2. Support teachers in their growth in assessment literacy through staff development.
3. Provide parent education opportunities to help parents understand assessment.
4. Work with local media to interpret various indices of school improvement in addition to normative measures.
5. Support development of a building wide portfolio system that showcases student work and moves from grade to
6. Make the goals and objectives of school clear and give focused feedback to teachers on how their classroom efforts
support these goals.
Teachers as learners: Teachers are learners as they examine multiple measures of student attitude and performance as
well as indices of community satisfaction. As students are no longer being educated to perform rote tasks focused on
knowledge and understanding, so too must teachers be supported as they acquire adult learning skills as creators and users
of assessment information. In the past, teachers were often expected to be passive deliverers of curriculum prepackaged
by a distant textbook publishing company. The movement toward teachers being makers and users of assessment data
reflects the shift from teacher as assembly line worker to lifetime learner (Bullard, p. 206)

Teachers find themselves transforming their teaching as ongoing assessment reveals how students approach tasks, what
helps them learn most effectively, and what strategies support their learning. The more teachers understand about what
students know and how they think, the more capacity they leave to reform their pedagogy, and the more opportunities they
create for student success. (Darling Hammond, (1996).

Teachers can:

1. Help students see what good work looks like by providing adequate models of work that meets requirements, exceeds
requirements and does not meet requirements.
2. Provide students with frequent feedback on specific ways to improve.
3. Teach students self reflective skills which include the ability to see how their work meets the standard and what they
need to change to improve. (Hearne, 1992)
4. Work with parents on how to monitor work at home in a positive manner.
5. Be assessment literate in all they do. (Stiggins, 2001) Share this with parents.
6. Design lessons with a clear view of the student outcomes expected. (Wiggins and McTigue, 1998)
7. Use grading practices that communicate about student achievement. (Airasian, 1994)

Students as learners: Students are traditionally thought of as the only learners in school. They are now able to use a
variety of tools and resources to demonstrate learning and reflect on their progress. Seeing examples of good work,
discussing scoring criteria or rubrics, and even creating templates to use in assessing their own and each other's work
develops their ability to identify and thus emulate good work.

Students can:

1. Learn to value their own work.

2. Use rubrics to assess their work.
3. Reflect on how their work is like/different from the standard and state what they need to do to improve.
4. Collect work over time and discuss it with an adult.
5. Learn the relationship between effort and outcomes.

Collectively, schools as learning organizations require a conceptual shift of power from total assessment by external
sources, (teachers, parents, tests) to shared assessment both external and internal (student). In The Quality School
(Glasser, 1990), the author discusses the need for a shift in power from teacher- centered to student- centered learning.
Traditional beliefs about the relationship between teaching and student learning must be discarded as the student is drawn
into the power loop and learns to construct indices of quality with the teacher.

The community as learners: At an individual school level, one of the first questions you must ask yourselves as a school
community is: "What are we assessing for? Are we measuring that which is most worthwhile to our school community?

In "The Socrates Syndrome - Questions that should never be Asked" Campbell (1995) suggests that true education is " a
lifetime of seamless experience, connecting individual episodes into an ever expanding web of meaning, insight and
understanding." But he acknowledges that asking the kinds of questions that make this true education possible is
threatening. People in schools are more willing to invest in magic bullets from publishers than in the time to wrangle over
questions such as:

* What is so important that everybody must know?

* Why does any test have a time limit?
* What is the purpose of education?

The standards-based reform movement grew out of attempts to answer questions such as these and many effective school
improvement models begin with these questions. The United States Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools
nomination begins with an analysis of goals and their match with the needs of the student population. Other useful
models which begin with an analysis of goals and mission include the Northwest Regional Laboratory's Onward to
Excellence Program and the National Study of School Evaluation's accreditation process School Improvement - Focusing
on Desired Student Outcomes. Models such as these mirror the strategic planning process used in business and industry
by clarifying direction, selecting indicators of progress, analyzing results, and using the information gained to inform
further improvement activities.

Community members can:

1. Read a variety of books on educational reform expressing different points of view.

2. Attend several school board meetings.
3. Visit their neighborhood school.
4. Learn about their state and district accountability system.
5. Become familiar with the types of assessments used in their community.

Authentic measures and sound assessment uses encourages learning at all levels of the school community and focuses
most directly on the student and the work. If you want students to solve problems, have them solve problems. If you want
the students to be able to write a persuasive essay, have them do that. If you want students to communicate mathematical
understanding, then have them explain their process in arriving at an answer.

In a standards based system, clear learning expectations make it easier to use assessment data as an accountability tool.
Everyone can become a learner as the answers to the three critical questions of quality are collaboratively explored. What
are we doing? How well are we doing it? What do we need to do to improve?

Thus, as Shakespeare might have said, "Assessment doth make learners of us all."

Copyright © 2004 Intelligence Connections

Posted with permission March 2004

Learning Celebrations are Authentic Assessments of Student
by Maggie Meyer and Jenna Glock

Reprinted with permission from INTELLIGENCE CONNECTIONS, Newsletter of the ASCD, Multiple Intelligences
Network, February 2004, Volume XI, Number 3
Oftentimes as educators, we ask ourselves how we can really tell if students are grasping the content.
Do they really understand? The ideas of Howard Gardner and the message provided by an ancient
Chinese proverb have been our guides in designing curriculum and assessments that engage learners.
Constructing learning experiences that are based on the multiple intelligences provides all students
with the opportunity to be successful. When it comes to assessment of that learning we use the same
concept in designing authentic situations we have called learning celebrations. A paper and pencil test
does not touch true understanding. Unfortunately, it has become the standard way for students to
show their knowledge. To demonstrate understanding we feel learners need to have choices so they
can show evidence of their learning through the intelligence of their choice. To be a useful assessment,
that learning should be applied in a setting that demonstrates genuine understanding.
We have discovered that some of the most meaningful moments in teaching and learning have
occurred during these celebrations. When students have multiple choices in ways to demonstrate
their knowledge, the evidence of their learning is more accurate. We wanted the students to actually
become the experts through the learning process. This assessment isn't just a fancy term for a
presentation at the end of a unit. To actually engage in an authentic celebration is to witness a true
display of student understanding.
Described below are two examples of compacted versions of some curriculum we have implemented
that culminate in learning celebrations.

Water We Doing? is a unit based on the concept of water and its value as a natural resource. The
essential question for the unit is: How are human beings responsible for the maintaining of healthy
watersheds? Through lessons designed using the multiple intelligences the students explore
watersheds, biodiversity, wetlands, groundwater, aquifers and impervious surfaces among many
other things.

To show their understanding of learning objectives the students choose from a variety of ways to
demonstrate that they are experts on certain topics. These choices are also designed by implementing
the multiple intelligences. The assessment is a learning celebration where students become presenters
at a Watershed Conference. They invite adults and community members to attend sessions where they
share their understanding in multiple ways.

Watershed Presentation Choices

Choose one of the following ideas to implement which will involve an audience and demonstrate your understanding of
content at a Watershed Conference session:

1. Construct a three- dimension model 2. Design a set of ten 3. Compose an instructional song
of a watershed. Be prepared to give a survey questions about about watersheds. Make sure this
sufficient definition of a watershed water as a natural is a teaching song and you are
and an explanation of your design. resource. Ask at least ten providing new learning as well as
This needs to be an intricate design adults to respond. Tally fun. Create some hand
reflecting new learning. Point out and analyze your results. movements or rhythms for group
impacts of human development and Visually share your participation. 3B. Make a musical
the value of natural resources. process and conclusions collage of songs that reflect the
Bodily/Kinesthetic during your importance of natural resources
presentation. and/or human impacts along
Interpersonal watersheds. Be prepared to give
background information to your
4. Where does our wastewater go? 5. You choose an idea for 6. Write a guided imagery
Schedule a docent-led visit of LOTT, a project or product that focusing on a biodiversity within
the water treatment plant for will show your a watershed or in a riparian zone.
Thurston County. Prepare a list of understanding of Make sure it has new information
questions to ask and take notes and watershed concepts. and learning within it to show
photos as you go. Share your new Explain it to me for you are an expert. Find
information visually, (diagram? approval before you appropriate music to play in the
model?) explaining the water start. Think about background as you engage your
treatment process and interesting data implementing audience.
you learn. technology such as Visual/Spatial
Mathematical/Logical Power Point or digital
photos into our
conference presentation.

9. Construct ten math problems that 8. With your parents, 9. Design and illustrate a
provide us with watershed data that explore a section of a watershed newspaper. Include
you think is valuable. Allow us time to river or creek along your both current events and
solve your problems but explain to us watershed. Use your informational articles on topics
your solutions and their significance senses and record your such as land use perspectives,
to our conference. observations. Take water conservation, and water
Mathematical/Logical pictures if you can. Share quality.
that data and your Verbal/Linguistic
experience with the class.

Leadership is a unit based on the idea the individuals have positive qualities that enable them to
develop into successful leadership positions. The personal intelligences are emphasized in this
learning experience. The essential question is: What kind of person do you want to be? After analyzing
the qualities displayed by positive leaders through lessons designed using multiple intelligences, the
students research several leaders of their choice. In the process, they explore qualities demonstrated
by each leader. Each student makes the choice of which famous leader he/she would like to explore
more about and become.
Students begin to creatively fashion clothes from their parents' closets and dress like their leaders.
After much research, they take on their leader's mannerisms and accents if necessary. To culminate
the process, The Night of the Notables is a learning celebration that allows the student to demonstrate
their understanding by presenting to an audience the leadership qualities they posses as their adopted

The audience participates by trying to guess the identity of the student's leader. As one student said,
"This was the best learning experience I have ever had. I have never worked harder in my life. I
learned so much about history, leadership, as well as how to do research. I will never forget about
becoming Helen Keller."
The demonstration of true understanding should not be a score on a test but a display of learning that
deserves a celebration. As an ancient Chinese proverb states, "Tell me, I will forget…. Show me, I will
remember…Involve me, I will understand." Isn't this what teaching and learning is all about?
Copyright © 2004 Intelligence Connections

Posted with permission March 2004

by New Horizons for Learning
Alternative Assessment Ideas
Assessing Student Knowledge without a Test
Dec 22, 2008 Jennifer Wagaman
Assessing students on new material without a test can sometimes result in greater student
learning and improved student grades.

Although it is important to assess student learning after a lesson, finding ways to do so without having them
take a test may be a more appropriate method of assessment at times. Students also will enjoy other types of
projects and assessment methods that take away the pressure of a testing situation. Many students simply do not
do well on tests, regardless of how well they learned the material, and an alternative form of assessment may
help them demonstrate their knowledge more appropriately.
Poster Project
After having finished a lesson or unit, one excellent method of assessing student knowledge is to have the
students make a poster. With some basic art supplies and either poster boards or large sheets of paper, students
can have the opportunity to create a visual display detailing some aspect of the lesson.
Depending on the unit, you can set various limitations to the poster, such as listing at least 5 facts learned. Not
only is this a great method for assessing student knowledge, but it provides a great display for outside the
Writing Portfolio
Writing class can be a difficult class to create a test for assessment purposes. Having students create a writing
portfolio throughout the school year can be an excellent assessment method. For each unit or new lesson you
teach, students must pick one finished piece of work to include in their portfolio. These pieces must obviously
be graded individually based on a rubric, but the finished portfolio at the end of the year will be a great way to
show parents the improvement in the student’s writing abilities over the course of the school year.
Class Presentation
One way to have your students demonstrate their level of knowledge learned through a unit is to have them
prepare a presentation to give to the class. This can either be done individually, or as a group. Explain this
assessment method at the beginning of the unit, so that students know what to expect

Read more at Suite101: Alternative Assessment Ideas: Assessing Student Knowledge without a
Test http://lesson-plan-
Alternative Assessment Tools - Tips For Using Different Ways to Assess Students' Work in Class
Alternative assessment tools can be defined as those that are not discrete point tests. The advantages of
alternative assessment focus on "how well," rather than "how many" (Gripps, 1994) and the individual
achievement relative to self. The other advantage of alternative assessment is the emphasis on competence
rather than intelligence or in simpler terms, how well one knows the material for the test.
In these best case scenarios, the students are not haunted by standardization, but focus on how to improve rather
than to prove. An individual student can make an enormous amount of progress and can learn a great deal from
working with alternative assessment tools.
Student Assessment
Student assessment, otherwise known as self-assessment, is one of the most reliable forms of assessment. Here
are a few examples of student assessment.
At the end of each lesson, learners can either fill in a type of student assessment form or write for ten minutes
what they have learned from the following main assessment tools:
Individual projects. The focus is on self-assessment or the learner is responsible for giving him/herself a grade
based on performance.
Criteria for grading is known from the start of the project work. The grade must be approved by the teacher and
other members of the group if applicable. The grade reflects areas of problem solving and learning the subject
Criteria for assessment of portfolios is another assessment tool. These can be determined from the portfolio:
level of entries based on the learning outcome and the achievement
how serious is the revision
reflection - how deep does the learner look at him/herself in regard to his/her learning.
visual layout - a positive attitude towards a portfolio reflects in the level of care taken in its presentation
Self-Assessment Questionnaires
Alternative assessment tools such as projects and portfolios are not for every teacher; nor are they suitable for
every working group of students. One way to find out how receptive your students might be to alternative
assessment in general is to take ten or fifteen minutes out of the lesson to conduct a self-assessment
questionnaire or a page of written reflections.
Here is an example of a few self-assessment type questions around the topic of practicing vocabulary:
In the past few lessons we have studied/practised/worked on:___________________
In your estimation, how well can you deal with the topics you listed? (not at all, to some extent, fairly well, very
well, thoroughly)
On reflection, to what extent do you find the topics listed important to your own needs? (not at all, not very,
fairly, very, extremely important)
In your estimation, how well do you know the vocabulary areas you mentioned? (not at all, to some extent,
fairly well, very well, thoroughly)
Other comments:
If and when the teacher decides to pursue the route of alternative assessments, students should always be given
an additional way to improve their grades such as revising a piece for the second or third time. This is an
incredible learning experience which does not adversely affects a learner's sense of self-esteem representative of
traditional tests.
Work Cited
Gripps, C.V. Beyond Testing: Towards a Theory of Educational Assessment. London: Falmer Press, 1994.
Make Your Teaching Sparkle. Teach for Success. Make a difference in the classroom.
Subscribe to receive your FREE e-zine and e-book, "Taking Charge in the Classroom" when you visit the New
Teacher Resource Center at
Purchase your ebook of classroom tested tips - "Tips and Tricks for Surviving and Thriving in the Classroom,"
at: and you'll receive a FREE ebooklet, "Yes! You Can Teach K-
12 English language learners Successfully!"
Dorit Sasson is a freelance writer, speaker, educator and founder of the New Teacher Resource Center.
Article Source: