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Content Area Learning Authentic Assessment. How do students monitor their understanding and take responsibility for their learning? January 19, 2010. Authentic Assessment.

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content area learning authentic assessment

Content Area Learning Authentic Assessment

How do students monitor their understanding and take responsibility for their learning?

January 19, 2010

Malden Public Schools 2010

authentic assessment

Authentic Assessment

If I taught someone to play golf I would not check what they have learned with just a written test. I would want to see more direct, authentic evidence. I would put my student out on a golf course to play. Similarly, if we want to know if our students can interpret literature, calculate potential savings on sale items, test a hypothesis, develop a fitness plan, converse in a foreign language, or apply other knowledge and skills they have learned, then authentic assessments will provide the most direct evidence.

Malden Public Schools 2010


Silent Discussion: How do students monitor

their understanding in

your classroom? Give an example.

Malden Public Schools 2010

what is authentic assessment
What is Authentic Assessment?

A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills –

Jonathan Mueller (2008)

Malden Public Schools 2010

why use authentic assessment
Why Use Authentic Assessment?

We want students to be able to use the acquired knowledge and skills in the real world. So, our assessments have to also tell us if students can apply what they have learned in authentic situations.

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what does authentic assessment look like
What does authentic assessment look like?

In authentic assessment, students:

  • do science experiments
  • conduct social-science research
  • write stories and reports
  • read and interpret literature
  • solve math problems that have real-world applications

Malden Public Schools 2010

how is authentic assessment similar to different from traditional assessment
How is Authentic Assessment similar to/different from Traditional Assessment?

“Traditional assessment" refers to multiple-choice tests, fill-in-the-blanks, true-false, matching and some writing prompts.  In these cases students typically select an answer or recall information to complete the assessment. These tests may be standardized or teacher-created. (Meuller,1992).

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In authentic assessment the teachers first determine the tasks that students will perform to demonstrate their mastery, and then a curriculum is developed that will enable students to perform those tasks well, which would include the acquisition of essential knowledge and skills.  This has been referred to as planning backwards (McDonald,1992).

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In the authentic assessment model, the same authentic task used to measure the students' ability to apply the knowledge or skills is used as a vehicle for student learning.

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Teachers do not have to choose between authentic assessment and traditional assessment. Often, teachers use a mix of traditional and authentic assessments to serve different purposes.

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  You may already be using authentic tasks in your classroom.  Or, you may already have the standards written, the first and most important step in the process. Perhaps you have a task but need to more clearly articulate the criteria for evaluating student performance on the task. Or, you may just want to develop a rubric for the task.

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Analytic rubrics articulates levels of performance for each criterion so the teacher can assess student performance on each criterion. (Research Rubric)

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Holistic Rubric assigns a level of performance by assessing performance across multiple criteria as a whole (Research Rubric)

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what is an authentic task
What is an authentic task?

The term task is often used synonymously with the term assessment in the field of authentic assessment. A task is considered authentic when…

  • students are asked to construct their own responses rather than to select from ones presented
  • the task replicates challenges faced in the real world. 

Malden Public Schools 2010

how can i use authentic assessment in my classroom
How can I use authentic assessment in my classroom?

Performance AssessmentPerformance assessments test students' ability to use skills in a variety of authentic contexts. They frequently require students to work collaboratively and to apply skills and concepts to solve complex problems. Short- and long-term tasks include such activities as:

  • writing, revising, and presenting a report to the class
  • conducting a week-long science experiment and analyzing the results
  • working with a team to prepare a position in a classroom debate

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Short InvestigationsMany teachers use short investigations to assess how well students have mastered basic concepts and skills. Most short investigations begin with a stimulus, like a math problem, political cartoon, map, or excerpt from a primary source.

The teacher may ask students to interpret, describe, calculate, explain, or predict. These investigations may use enhanced multiple-choice questions. Or they may use concept mapping, a technique that assesses how well students understand relationships among concepts.

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Open-Response QuestionsOpen-response questions, like short investigations, present students with a stimulus and ask them to respond. Responses include:
  • a brief written or oral answer
  • a mathematical solution
  • a drawing
  • a diagram, chart, or graph

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PortfoliosA portfolio documents learning over time. This long-term perspective accounts for student improvement and teaches students the value of self-assessment, editing, and revision. A student portfolio can include:
  • journal entries and reflective writing
  • peer reviews
  • artwork, diagrams, charts, and graphs
  • group reports
  • student notes and outlines
  • rough drafts and polished writing

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Self-AssessmentSelf-assessment requires students to evaluate their own participation, process, and products. Evaluative questions are the basic tools of self-assessment. Students give written or oral responses to questions like:
  • What was the most difficult part of this project for you?
  • What do you think you should do next?
  • If you could do this task again, what would you do differently?
  • What did you learn from this project?

Malden Public Schools 2010

summary of steps for authentic assessment meuller 2008
Summary of Steps for Authentic Assessment (Meuller, 2008)
  • Identify your standards for your students.
  • For a particular standard or set of standards, develop a task your students could perform that would indicate that they have met these standards.
  • Identify the characteristics of good performance on that task, the criteria, that, if present in your students’ work, will indicate that they have performed well on the task, i.e., they have met the standards.
  • For each criterion, identify two or more levels of performance along which students can perform which will sufficiently discriminate among student performance for that criterion. The combination of the criteria and the levels of performance for each criterion will be your rubric for that task (assessment).

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self regulated learning paris ayres 1994
Self-regulated Learning (Paris & Ayres,1994)
  • The term self-regulated learning (SRL) became popular in the 1980’s because it emphasized the emerging autonomy and responsibility of students to take charge of their own learning.
  • Three central characteristics of SRL are
    • awareness of thinking
    • use of strategies
    • sustained motivation

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when students direct their own learning they
When students direct their own learning they….
  • Select goals to pursue and work on a variety of task. This means they have choices.
  • Adjust the task they are working on to be challenging, interesting, and achievable.
  • Know how to use the resources that are available to the; they know how to plan.
  • Know how to collaborate.

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Focus on constructing meaning from what they are doing.
  • Evaluate and interpret their behaviors in ways that promote further effort and resiliency.
  • Monitor their own performance and evaluate their progress against criteria and reasonable standards. (Metacognition)

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metacognitive knowledge paris lipson and wixson 1983
Metacognitive Knowledge (Paris, Lipson, and Wixson, 1983)
  • Students have declarative knowledge about what strategies are available to them
  • Students understand procedural knowledge about how strategies operate.
  • Students understand conditional knowledge about under what circumstances strategies are helpful, when they should be applied, and why they are necessary.

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self regulated learning activities also include self evaluation tools that include

Term/Semester Reflections




Peer Conferences


Exit Slips

Revision/Editing Sheets

Group Evaluations

Goal Setting

Self-regulated learning activities also include self-evaluation tools that include…

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Turn and Talk:

How do these three concepts fit into the Gradual Release of Responsibility?

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  • McDonald, J. P. (1992). Dilemmas of planning backwards: Rescuing a good idea. Teachers College Record, 94, 152-169
  • Meuller, J. (2008). Authentic Assessment Toolkit.
  • Paris, S.G. and Ayres, L.R. (1994). Becoming Reflective Students and Teachers with Portfolios and Authentic Assessments. A Series on Applied Educational Psychology.
  • Paris, S. G., Lipson, M. Y., and Wixson, K. K. (1983). Becoming a strategic reader. Contemporary Educational Psychology.
  • Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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