Connect Academic Achievement to
Performance Based Assessment
Family engagement is important to performance based assessment because it helps to ensure that students have the support they need at home to succeed in school. When families are involved in their children's education, they can provide the kind of support that is necessary for students to perform well on performance assessments. This can include providing a safe and stimulating learning environment, encouraging a love of learning, and helping students to develop the skills and strategies they need to be successful. Furthermore, Family engagement in education can also increase trust between families and schools, which can lead to better communication, shared responsibility, and a more positive school culture. Together, these factors can contribute to improved student performance and achievement, which is the ultimate goal of performance assessment.
Performance assessment is one alternative to traditional methods of testing student achievement. While traditional testing requires students to answer questions correctly (often on a multiple-choice test), performance assessment requires students to demonstrate knowledge and skills, including the process by which they solve problems. Performance assessments measure skills such as the ability to integrate knowledge across disciplines, contribute to the work of a group, and develop a plan of action when confronted with a new situation. Performance assessments are also appropriate for determining if students are achieving the higher standards set by states for all students. This brochure explains features of this assessment alternative, suggests ways to evaluate it, and offers exploratory questions you might ask your child's teacher about this subject.
What Are Performance Assessments?
The Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress described performance assessment as testing that requires a student to create an answer or a product that demonstrates his or her knowledge or skills. Examples of performance assessments include:
Group projects enabling a number of students to work together on a complex problem that requires planning, research, internal discussion, and group presentation.
Essays assessing students' understanding of a subject through a written description, analysis, explanation, or summary.
Experiments testing how well students understand scientific concepts and can carry out scientific processes.
Demonstrations giving students opportunities to show their mastery of subject-area content and procedures.
Portfolios allowing students to provide a broad portrait of their performance through files that contain collections of students' work, assembled over time.
One key feature of all performance assessments is that they require students to be active participants. They also focus attention on how students arrive at their answers and require students to demonstrate the knowledge or skills needed to obtain a correct answer. To illustrate, if high school juniors are asked to demonstrate their understanding of interest rates by shopping for a used-car loan (i.e., comparing the interest rates of banks and other lending agencies and identifying the best deal), a teacher can easily see if the students understand the concept of interest, know how it is calculated, and are able to perform mathematical operations accurately.
What Are the Advantages of Assessing My Child This Way?
Instruction in most subject areas is being altered to include more practical applications of skills and to incorporate a greater focus on the understanding and combining of content and skills.
Performance assessments closely tied to this new way of teaching provide teachers with more information about the learning needs of their students and enable them to modify their methods to meet these needs. They also allow students to assess their own progress and, therefore, be more responsible for their education.
Advocates of performance assessment believe these tests will prompt educators and school officials to identify the skills and knowledge they want their students to acquire and to focus on teaching students this information. It also provides educators with information about what students have learned, not just how well they can learn.
What Are the Disadvantages of Assessing My Child This Way?
Performance assessments usually include fewer questions and call for a greater degree of subjective judgement than traditional testing methods. Since there a