Friday, May 22, 2015

Authentic Assessments

Authentic assessment is a term which has been coined to describe alternative assessment methods. These methods should authentically allow a student to demonstrate a student's ability to perform tasks, solve problems or express knowledge in ways which simulate situations which are found in real life (Hymes, 1991). Traditional assessments are usually tests taken with pencil and paper and can be easily graded in short periods of time. Authentic assessments require students to be effective performers with acquired knowledge (Wiggins, 1990). Traditional assessments require students to recall memorized facts at lower level thinking.Authentic learning requires higher order thinking. Authentic assessments are all about "what a student CAN DO" AND traditional assessments are all about "what a student CAN REMEMBER". Traditional assessments are set by the curriculum. Schools teach the knowledge and skills. In Authentic assessments schools facilitate the development of skills that enable students to perform real tasks. The assessment drives the curriculum. Traditional assessments are teacher driven whereas Authentic assessments are student centered. In middle school time is a constraint. Authentic assessments are all about a journey; a process where students learn and refine their skills as they work to solve a real-world problem or create a real-world product. This process takes time - time that is very limited in the traditional school setting. The question was posed as to if authentic assessments could be successful in all disciplines. I believe it could - if it was presented as a cross-curricular project. It would definitely change the look of what traditional school looks like and what the learning would look like. I couldn't count how many times students have asked me - how many pages do I need for an A? What exactly do you want? Students have been brainwashed through traditional assessments to try and guess what the teacher wants and getting away from the whole point of the learn something they want to learn. Students needs opportunities to refine, reflect, fail, and succeed. This process takes time. Time to experiment, time to collaborate, time to develop mastery. The traditional school day does not really allow for this needed TIME! Perhaps it would be advantageous to establish a "Power Hour" within the structure of the traditional school day where groups of students could collaborate and work on real-world problems that they were interested in - guided by teachers in all of the disciplines. This facilitation could show students how all disciplines work together to solve problems and that history is intertwined with language arts, and health. It requires a broad spectrum of knowledge to problem-solve and that there are many solutions to existing problems. It takes knowledge and skill in a wide variety of subjects to be successful. I'm not saying that there isn't a place for traditional assessments, because there is a use for these along the journey. Authentic assessments combine the traditional academic content with the knowledge and skills needed to function appropriately in the real world. For some of us Authentic assessments is a real change in mindset. We grew up with paper and pencil, multiple choice and short essay, standardized testing, and college entrance; Authentic assessments are a new way of looking at things. It is a more progressive and purposeful way of learning; a more progressive and purposeful way of proving real learning. Authentic assessment also has the advantage of providing parents and community members with directly observable products and understandable evidence concerning their students' performance (Wiggins, 1990). Everyone benefits from Authentic Learning - the teacher, the learner, the community, the world. Hymes, D. L. (1991). The Changing Face of Testing and Assessment: Problems and Solutions. AASA Critical Issues Report. American Association of School Administrators, 1801 North Moore St., Arlington, VA 22209-9988. Wiggins, Grant (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 2(2). Retrieved May 22, 2015 from .

1 comment:

  1. Chris,
    You hit on two serious issues here.

    1) Traditional grades: Mark Barnes' Assessment 3.0 is pivotal game-changer here. So much that I wrote a few blogs on the topic. This is definitely something to be looked at deeper by admin & others.

    2) Mindset: Currently reading Dr. Carol Dweck's "Mindset," and it's blowing my mind regarding Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset. Such a crucial topic for any PLC/PLN to continue developing.

    Thank you sharing your thoughts. On point!