A performance assessment task will capture the highest level of cognitive complexity and measure the deepest level of student understanding. I believe in this model for regular classroom assessment more than ever, especially now that more authentic assessment is essential to the Common Core State Standards.
Assessments should use multiple item types to assess student learning across the levels of cognitive complexity. I encourage you to start with low depth of knowledge (DOK) multiple-choice items, adding more complex multiple-choice and constructed-response items, and then ending with a performance task. But even back when I was a high school English teacher in St. Louis, MO (more years ago than I like to admit) I recognized the power that a graduated assessment model could offer, especially when working with students of varying skill levels (which is every class, isn’t it?).
My only problem with creating these multi-faceted assessments for learning was that I had to develop all of my content in a vacuum. I selected my own texts, wrote all of my items and created the rubrics I would use to evaluate student work for the more complex activities. It took a long time, especially my performance tasks, which contained multiple steps, rubrics, and stimulus materials. These complex Acuity Performance Assessment tasks ended up being culminating activities rather than routine practice on responding to evidence based questions, but I also realize now is that I needed another resource to help my students prepare for my own tasks. I needed a source of great tasks that could be selected “on the fly,” so my students got more practice on tasks and could be ready for the kinds of tasks I put to them at the end of a unit.
The most wonderful thing about being an educator in this standards-driven culture is the wonderful resources available to educators. I am particularly excited about the new Acuity Performance Task Banks that are a part of CTB’s commitment to performance-based assessment tests. If I were an Acuity educator today, wanting to use performance tasks routinely with my students, I would have a large body of tasks to add to my custom tests. These Acuity Assessment tasks are distributed across three major item banks.
The first Acuity Assessment offering for performance tasks is a group of items that are free to all of our Acuity Common Core educators through the Acuity Performance Assessments Bank. There are 47 tasks in these banks, covering Mathematics and ELA for Grades 3–High School. Most grades/courses have three tasks per subject area, some grades have two. Each of these tasks was authored by CTB authors, content area experts who have been at the forefront of the performance task movement that has been inspired by the Common Core. These tasks are easy to access through the custom test builder and come complete with scoring rubrics and other resource materials.
The other two item banks are actually a single new product offered by Acuity. This is the Acuity Performance Task Bank, which is made up of two groups of performance tasks: MARS tasks in Mathematics for Grades 2–high school and more CTB-authored tasks in Mathematics and ELA for Grades 2 – 8.
Stay tuned for part two to learn more specifics about performance task banks. This is where it gets really exciting!
Holly Bremerkamp, “@TheAcuityLady“