Guidance on Standards, Assessments, and Accountability
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EXAMPLE: Performance-based Assessments

Performance-based assessment may be defined as assessment methods that require students to create an answer or product that demonstrates knowledge or skills. Performance assessments may include any of the following categories of items:

  • Open-ended or constructed response items: questions that require students to respond in their own words—to "construct" their answers—to questions that may have multiple good answers. Students usually reason out their solutions as part of their answers. Usually students can answer these questions in just a few minutes, and in that way they differ from some of the performance activities described below.

  • Performance-based items or events: questions, tasks, or activities that require students to perform an action. Although performances can involve demonstrations or presentations, they most typically involve students explaining how they would answer the question or solve a problem by writing a few sentences or paragraphs, drawing and explaining a diagram, or performing an experiment. Such tasks may take from 15 minutes to an hour or more and may involve some work with a group of students who think through the answers and later provide their own individually written answers.

  • Projects or experiments: extended performance tasks that may take several days or even several weeks to complete. Students generate problems,consider options, propose solutions, and demonstrate their solutions. Students often work in groups, at least for some of the project, to analyze options and to consider ways to present their thinking and conclusions.

  • Portfolios: collections of student work that show teachers and others who may "score" portfolios on the range and quality of student work over a period of time and in various content areas. There are almost as many approaches to compiling and evaluating portfolios as there are proponents of this form of assessment. Portfolios can be used both formally and informally. Ideally, portfolios capture the evolution of students’ ideas and can be used instructionally and as progress markers for students, teachers, and program evaluators.

Source: Improving America’s Schools: A Newsletter On Issues in School Reform, funded and distributed by the U. S. Department of Education

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Last Modified: 10/10/2003