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by Ian Stevenson
National Faculty

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July 31, 2017
Deeper Learning Performance Assessment Resource

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by Ian Stevenson
National Faculty

Assessing student learning is crucial for Gold Standard PBL.  The authentic purpose and tasks of an engaging PBL unit also require authentic assessments where students apply what they have learned. So, how do we create these types of formative and summative performance assessments that assess deeper learning skills as well as specific content?

One of my Need to Know questions for this challenge is: Where can I get high quality information specifically about performance assessment?  The Performance Assessment Resource Bank curated by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) is a place to start. I have found informational writing assessments for elementary science projects with driving questions like “Should animals be kept in zoos?” to secondary argumentative multi-media presentation ELA projects asking “How can the needs of young people growing up in American cities be met?”.

The performance assessment tasks can be used as is, or changed to fit your specific project or unit.  Many of the assessments in the bank could be used as a formative assessment checkpoint for informational content learning in the early phases of a project.  Or they could serve as the later phase summative individual argumentative writing product in addition to the team presentation. If nothing else, they will spark ideas and support your own design of quality assessment tools.

High-Quality Tasks
If you are not sure if your own performance assessment is high quality the bank also contains resources that help you design, assess, and fine tune to ensure that the assessment is aligned to your objectives. Everything included in the bank goes through a rigorous SCALE certified review of specific criteria. I love how they are clearly aligned with BIE’s Gold Standard PBL. The criteria ensure that the tasks are:

  • Focused on Deeper Learning that require the demonstration and/or the application of complex skills including critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, collaboration, and meta-cognition.
  • Tightly aligned to content and skills emphasized by the Common Core State Standards, the C3 Framework for Social Studies, or the NextGen Science Standards.
  • Allow student choice and agency in that they allow for a variety of responses that require student-initiated planning and management of information and ideas.
  • Relevant and authentic to students’ lives in that the topic connects to students’ lives, and simulates authentic purpose and audience.
  • Free of significant bias that might disadvantage specific student populations.


Wherever you are (experienced or just starting out) on the path of transforming to more authentic teaching and learning this Performance Assessment Resource Bank will be a help. Check it out at Performance Assessment Resource Bank (you will need to create a free account).


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