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Performance Assessment Series: Classroom Tips and Tools for Busy Teachers Elementary School Edition


A collection of interdisciplinary, multi-task performance assessments for elementary students.

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A collection of interdisciplinary, multi-task performance assessments for elementary students.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780964495586
  • Publisher: Lead and Learn Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2001
  • Series: Performance Assessment Series
  • Pages: 161
  • Product dimensions: 8.48 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword: Why Performance Assessments? By Dr. Douglas Reeves


Chapter 1 - Educator's Guide: Getting Started!
  • What ARE Performance Assessments?
  • Assessment Principles
  • Assessment Format
  • Using Performance Assessments in the Classroom
  • Scoring Guides
  • Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
  • Teacher Reflection Sheet
  • Scoring Guide for Teacher Self-Assessment
Chapter 2 - Implementing Assessments Within Your Classroom
  • Assessment 1 - Everyday Heroes - Language Arts
  • Assessment 2 - Owning a Pet - Mathematics
  • Assessment 3 - An Intergalactic Guidebook - Science
  • Assessment 4 - Making a Difference - Social Studies
  • Assessment 5 - Community Gardening - Interdisciplinary
Chapter 3 - The Next Step
  • Reflecting on using performance assessments
  • A Word About Scoring Guides (rubrics)
  • Feedback - let us help you be successful!
  • Cross reference list
  • Standards Achievement Report (sample)
  • Further Readings and Websites
  • Index
About The Center for Performance Assessment
  • Who We Are and What We Do
  • Contributors
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First Chapter

Educator's Guide To Performance Assessments:
Getting Started!

What ARE Performance Assessments?

A performance assessment requires a demonstration of knowledge, skills, and understanding by the student. Unlike a multiple-choice test, one cannot guess the correct answer to a performance assessment.

The fundamental purpose of performance assessment is the improvement of student learning, not the rendering of an evaluation. Moreover, performance assessments need not be done at the exclusion of traditional tests. A balanced approach to assessment involves teachers using traditional tests (multiple choice and essay) for periodic monitoring of what students know and performance assessments as an integral part of instruction. The majority of assessment should be formative: used not to give a grade, but to learn what students know, how teaching should be adjusted, and to improve student skills. Students who successfully complete a performance assessment must typically demonstrate understanding, perhaps through an experiment or the solution to a problem, and must successfully communicate that understanding, typically through written or oral presentations (Reeves, 2000).

Performance assessments are generally evaluated using scoring guides (commonly called 'rubrics'). These documents allow the student to understand precisely what the examiners will regard as "proficient" work. There is neither mystery nor guesswork in the process. Different examiners, all using the same scoring guide, should come to the same or very similar conclusions about the quality of a student's work product (Reeves, 2000).

The assessments in this book are designed based on some fundamental beliefs about classroom assessment. These principles of assessment provide the basis on which the assessments are best used in the classroom.

Principles of assessment

Assessments are part of the curriculum: they are tools for reaching proficiency. It is tempting to think of a performance assessment as a replacement for some other type of test. On the contrary, the assessments in this book are intended to go along with, support, and reinforce the other things you do to prepare students to reach proficiency at standards. Educators should use more than one measure to make determinations about student performance. If, however, a student is proficient on an assessment, along with other measures of his or her performance, it is safe to assume that proficiency has been reached for the standard being addressed by the assessment.

Multiple assessments are the ideal. Performance-based assessments can be an important part of a unit in the curriculum and are an excellent way for the student to self-assess his or her knowledge. In performing the tasks in the assessment, the student works through the material and has a chance to demonstrate often and in more than one way that the material has been mastered. Frequent and repeated assessment throughout the school year is recommended.

Multiple attempts at an assessment are important. These assessments are designed so that large numbers of students ideally every student can achieve proficiency. The purpose of multiple tasks and scoring guides on an assessment is to encourage the use of teacher feedback as the student builds on his or her skills and knowledge throughout the assessment. Students who do not achieve a proficient score on a task should be encouraged to revise their work and resubmit it, or to redo the task until they reach proficiency. Students who achieve a proficient score the first time around can be challenged to achieve an exemplary score. And those who achieved an exemplary score on the first attempt can be offered enrichment activities.

Assessments are open, not secret. The contents of these assessments should not be a secret. On the contrary, it is recommended that the assessments and scoring guides be known by and discussed among students. Rather than locking them up until test day, the assessments can be distributed to students, teachers, and parents so that the expectations about performance are clearly understood by all.

Frequently, there is not a single "right way" to respond to the tasks on the assessments. The scoring guides that accompany each task provide sample criteria for each level of performance. This follows the philosophy that there are myriad ways that a student can show an exemplary, proficient, or progressing performance. Each task within an assessment clearly defines the expected outcomes and yet allows students to respond at the proficient level in a variety of ways. This approach 'levels' the playing field in the 'game' of academics - allowing students to respond to the criteria of a task in unique, creative and acceptable ways.

Assessments require the students to "show what they know." Using standards-based performance assessments enables students to demonstrate proficiency when they have truly mastered the subject.

Assessment format

All assessments in this book follow a consistent format. Each assessment includes the following:
  • Assessment Summary Page
  • Assessment title
  • Essentials questions
  • Assessment summary
  • Concepts and topics addressed in the assessment
  • Keywords
  • Standards Page—lists the national standards that are addressed in the assessment
  • Standards Worksheet—guides teachers in aligning the assessment to their state or district standards
  • Information for the Teacher—describes briefly what the teacher should expect in the assessment and provides ideas for implementation
  • List of required materials, if applicable.
  • Time estimations, this varies widely and can be adapted to meet the needs f your classroom.
  • Prior knowledge that is required by the students to perform the assessment

Suggestions of ways to enrich the assessment.
Scoring key, if applicable. The scoring key gives the correct answers. Many assessments do not have one "right" answer, and therefore the assessment will not include a scoring key or will indicate that answers may vary. Engaging Scenario or Assessment Introduction for the Student that creates a real-world situation to engage the student in the tasks. Four tasks with task-specific scoring guides.

The following pages offer more explanation of these elements.
Using Performance Assessments in the Classroom
Make assessments and scoring guides accessible to students

The entire performance assessment should be open, not secret. Students can nd should see the assessment tasks and scoring guides before they begin work. Knowing what is ahead and what is expected helps focus learning.

Students review the scoring guides for each task before beginning work. The scoring guide helps students know specifically what is expected of them. It gives feedback even before they begin. Ideally, it should also enable the student to self-assess his or her work while creating it. The student can evaluate whether or not the performance on the tasks meets proficiency before the assignment is submitted to the teacher and have the opportunity to revise it based on specific feedback provided by the rubric.

Formative and summative assessments

Understanding the difference between formative and summative assessments will determine how and when the performance assessments are used in the classroom. Performance assessments can be used as either formative or summative assessments within the classroom. As a formative assessment tool, they can be used to determine what students know, how teaching should be adjusted, and to improve student skills. A summative assessment tool is an evaluation, usually given at the end of a grading period. These performance assessments are designed to be instructional material as well as tools for evaluation of student performance. As you gain experience using performance assessments you will be able to determine the 'how and when' of using these tools.

Multiple measures

How does a teacher know when a student is proficient at a standard? Performance assessments are one way to measure students' progress toward meeting proficiency at standards. Including multiple methods of measurement allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of ways and teachers to accurately report the students' true performance on a standard. These assessments can be used as a supplement to what you are already using. The Standards Achievement Report may help you organize and report students' progress on each standard by recording multiple projects and assessments. Also, the Grading and Performance Assessment section offers ways to include multiple measures in a standards-based approach.

Essential questions

Begin with the end in mind. By identifying the learning objectives before beginning an assessment, the focus of the attention is on the end goals. The essential questions, or also known as focus questions, guide instruction and assessment. By reading and discussing them before the tasks, the expectations are clearly communicated to students. After all of the tasks are completed, students should be able to answer these questions based on their understanding from doing the performance tasks. Focusing on the essential questions allows students to demonstrate their increased knowledge and skills based on their meaningful work on the tasks. During completion of the tasks, other focus questions will undoubtedly arise - use additional questions as opportunities to extend students' learning and connecting these questions with end goals, standards and course expectations.

The essential questions also integrate conceptual understandings into the assessment. Enrichment tasks could be developed based on the questions, such as exploring the concepts in an essay or developing a completely new task that involves a more complex project.

Alignment to standards

The most fundamental design feature of these performance assessments is the alignment with standards. Standards-driven instruction and assessment in the classroom is essential to building a fair and successful school system that has a laser-like focus on improved student achievement.

All assessments in this book are aligned to national standards. The reason for this is to provide teachers with examples of standards and their alignment to the assessment. All states and/or districts have their own standards and the students, teachers, school systems are often accountable to those standards. Use the alignment to national standards as a model for linking the assessments to your own standards.

Additional material required

Some assessments require the use of additional resources such as reference materials, texts or access to outside experts. These requirements are listed in the information for the teacher section. Teachers are encouraged to use additional materials that apply to topics the class is currently studying. Be sure to define any unknown vocabulary words as students work through the tasks.

Time to complete the assessments

An estimation of time it takes to complete the assessment is given. However, as we know, not all students learn at the same pace. If students need more time on a task, they should be given the opportunity to reach proficiency even if it means another day and another revision. In addition, the differences in curriculum, grade level, time of the school year, and school schedules will all have an effect on how long it takes to complete all of the tasks in an assessment. For example, students may need more guidance and time for revision in the writing process in September than in April of that school year. Or, if the teacher decides to expand the research task to include more work outside the classroom, the time it takes students to complete that task will depend on library hours or field trips. Please note that multiple opportunities are not synonymous with infinite opportunities. The reality of a classroom requires an ending date for students to show their best work on a particular task or performance assessment.

Enrich the assessments

Enriching assessments involves creating additional tasks. You should consider the possibility of enriching the tasks of the assessments by including various teaching resources that you have already prepared to teach this material. You are encouraged to modify the tasks to best use the specific opportunities that are available at your school and to meet your students' specific educational needs. Enrichment ideas are given for each assessment.

Engaging scenarios

The scenario is a critical element in the performance assessment. This introduction to the assessment engages the students by describing a scenario with real-world application. Understanding of academic concepts improves when students have the opportunity to put the knowledge gained in the classroom into a real-life situation. The scenario should be challenging and interesting. The engaging scenario also creates a theme for the assessment to which all of the tasks relate. This is particularly helpful when the assessment is used as a six-week unit with interdisciplinary tasks.

Teachers are encouraged to develop or modify assessments based on current lessons, local issues, or students' interests. Motivating students is key to improved learning. By allowing students the flexibility to delve into their own interests, while maintaining a strict adherence to the task requirements, academic focus, and scoring guides (rubrics), motivation is bound to improve. This flexibility, however, can present interesting challenges for teachers' classroom management (see Frequently-Asked Question #3).

Grading and performance assessments

Grading in a standards-based classroom can be a difficult issue, influenced by the school system's grading policy and report cards and the perceptions of grades by students, parents, and teachers. Although we admit these are not easy to change, establishing a fair standards-based grading system for your classroom, which includes performance assessments,can certainly be accomplished. The following is in no way a comprehensive discussion about grading in standards-based system. See the Further Readings for more resources on the subject.

Fundamentally, teachers should reflect on why grades are given and how they currently give them. Regardless of the system that teachers decide to use, out of the myriad of grading systems available, the most important thing is to clearly communicate to students, parents, and colleagues what the grade, or score, means in the context of standards. This may take extra work on the part of teachers to alter students' perceptions of grades, meet with parents to outline the system, and to create report cards with the information needed to accurately describe the students' progress toward meeting proficiency at standards. Below are a few approaches to consider.

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The Performance Assessment Series provides busy teachers with standards-based performance assessments that can be used in the classroom immediately. These assessments are tools for teachers to guide instruction and to measure students' progress toward reaching proficiency at standards.

This Series is a collection of assessments that stem from the International Performance Assessment System (IPAS) developed by the Center for Performance Assessment. IPAS is a set of 192 standards-based performance assessments designed for kindergarten through 12th grade levels in the four core academic subject areas. This databank of assessments is used by entire school systems as an extensive resource for making standards-based assessment an effective teaching and learning tool in all classrooms. School systems receive IPAS assessments linked to any state or district's standards, depending on the needs of the school system. The performance assessments and many of the concepts described in this book are based on the model provided by Dr. Douglas Reeves in his book Making Standards Work: How to Implement Standards-based Assessment in the Classroom, School, and District.

The Elementary Edition includes five assessments for third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms. To help teachers get the most out of these assessments, the Educator's Guide to Performance Assessments first provides information about how the assessments are designed and how to best use them in the classroom.

Performance assessments may be very different from the instructional material you currently use in the classroom. If so, we have included recommended readings and professional development to accompany this book. See the section on Further Readings to learn more about performance assessments and other related topics. If you are familiar with performance assessments and have used them before, then the assessments in this book should be helpful in saving time and in providing models for further development of your own assessments.

This book is not intended to be comprehensive in the area of classroom assessment. Only brief discussions are provided about complex issues surrounding performance-based assessment. These are only intended to provide basic and essential information for teachers to best use the assessments in the book. We have provided a list of additional resources if you would like more information, research, and ideas.

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About the Author:
Douglas Reeves, Ph.D.

Dr. Douglas Reeves is the president and founder of the Center for Performance Assessment and the International Center for Educational Accountability, a non-profit organization that works with governmental organizations and school systems to improve standards, assessments, and accountability systems. Scores of schools are transforming their approach to standards and assessment by using Dr. Reeves' practical books and video series: Making Standards Work: How to Implement Standards-Based Assessments in the Classroom, School and District, and Accountability in Action: A Blueprint for Learning Organizations. Dr. Reeves' newest video series is Implementing Accountability for Greater Student Learning. Dr. Reeves is a frequent speaker in the U.S. and abroad on accountability, standards and assessment for such organizations as the National School Conferences Institute, National Satellite Network, International Conference on Technology and Education, American Association of School Administrators, and National School Board Association. In addition, Dr. Reeves contributes articles to professional journals.

His most recent articles include: "Three Keys to Professional Development," published in the California Curriculum News Report; "Clear Answers to Common Sense Questions About Accountability" in Thrust for Educational Leadership; "Seek Integrity, Efficacy, Diligence" in the National School Development Council's JSD Forum; and "Caught in the Middle," published by the American School Board Journal.

Other published articles include: "Defending Performance Assessment Without Being Defensive" and "Responding to the Rhetoric of the Radical Right," published in School Administrator Magazine, "Practical Performance Assessment for Busy Teachers" published in Learning Magazine, and "Holding School Leaders Accountable: Seven Keys to Effective Evaluation," in School Administrator Magazine.

Beyond his work in large-scale assessment and research, Dr. Reeves has devoted many years to classroom teaching with students ranging from 6th grade to doctoral candidates. He also serves as "Testdoctor" of the Internet and responds to hundreds of inquiries on educational assessment from students, teachers, and school leaders throughout the world.
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