Performance Assessment

Performance assessment is a task that students must complete rather than writing a test. In a Spanish class, for example, students may be asked to give an oral presentation rather than a traditional exam. Open-ended response exercises, extended tasks, and portfolios are used in performance evaluations. Students describe their observations from an experiment or enact historical events in an open-ended response exercise. An extended task could be writing a story or conducting and explaining the results of an experiment, especially one that takes a long time. Portfolios showcase a student’s best work from a term or course and may include performance-based pieces.

Students participate in skill-building activities rather than answering questions about how to perform those skills on paper in performance assessments. A performance assessment task has the following characteristics: a) real-world scenarios, b) an authentic and complex process, c) higher-order thinking, and d) transparent evaluation criteria. When combined with other forms of assessment, performance assessment provides an excellent opportunity for professors to personalize their courses.

How are performance assessments used?

Educators use performance assessments to determine whether students have knowledge of a subject or are learning about it throughout the year. Educators can administer a performance assessment at any time, but they are most commonly used at the beginning and end of a course. Students are frequently asked to use problem-solving skills or critical thinking to create a report, experiment, or give a performance that demonstrates their ability to apply what they have learned in a performance assessment.

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