Reading Reflection #5: Performance Assessments, Rubrics, Portfolios

Ch8 p. 209 #1: What do you personally consider to be the greatest single strength of performance assessment? How about the greatest single weakness?

I think that the greatest strength of performance assessment is that it allows for authentic student learning. This creates space for students to work with the subject matter in a way that forces them to “apply” their knowledge rather than simply memorizing and information dumping. Since many students are driven by grades, it is a popular habit to cram information right before a test to get a good grade, but afterwards the knowledge is soon lost. Performance assessment forces students to critically think about their learning and interact with information in a real-world context.

I would say that the greatest weakness of performance assessment is that it is very difficult to judge the “adequacy of student’s responses”. Since grades are so important in school and especially high school, they need to be valid. As the reading states, a performance assessment is based on “constructed response measurement procedures” where the student gets to come up with their response rather than selecting it from a test. Since each individual student is coming up with their own response, it is very difficult to create an even grading playing field that will accurately apply to a classroom of differentiated student responses.

#5: Do you prefer holistic or analytic scoring of student’s responses to performance test? And, pray tell, why?

At this point, I prefer a holistic scoring of student’s responses to performance tests. As I am growing and learning as a teacher, I realize that this viewpoint could change in the future. The reason that I prefer a holistic response to scoring performance tests is mainly because of the style of my classes. I teach technology/visual art classes where the classes are based around projects. These projects have enough flexibility for students to make them their own through their individual passions and interests. With that said, it is very difficult to analytically grade these projects. This is not to say that I lack a scoring rubric with specific evaluative criteria. On the contrary, I start each project by showing students what a complete grade would look like and also what a “going above and beyond expectations” grade might look like. A holistic approach to scoring works better in these classes because there is not always a right or wrong answer.

Ch9 p. 227 #2: Three purposes of portfolio assessment were described in the chapter: documentation of student progress, showcasing student accomplishments, and evaluation of student status. Which of these three purposes do you believe to be most meritorious? And, or course, why?

I think that the purpose of documentation of student progress through portfolio assessment is very impactful for a student’s learning. This teaches students to learn and grow, and to also realize that they are growing. I have seen so many light bulb moments occur in my students when they look at their previous work and realize how far they have come. Students do not always see this growth and can easily lose momentum in their learning because they “feel” that they are not making headway. However, when a teacher can show them evidence of their individual growth, it is highly motivating and encouraging for students.  This documentation of student progress also teaches students to be self-evaluative of their journey in learning, which I think is vital for their progress in the classroom.  This purpose of portfolio assessment is not only effective for a student to see his or her individual progress, but of course it is also highly beneficial for a teacher to assess a student’s growth in learning.

#4: If it is true that portfolios need to be personalized for particular students, is it possible to devise one-size-fits-all criteria for evaluating classroom portfolio work products? Why or why not?

This is a difficult question to answer because I believe that a consistent criteria evaluation can be done but I don’t think it will always fall into the “fair” category.  As I previously mentioned, I teach technology classes where most of the activities done in class are the students learning software programs through projects. When I first started evaluating these projects, I soon realized that they would be very difficult to grade. There were some gifted students who did an amazing job, but had used those gifts to goof-off during class and quickly finished it right before it was due. There were other students who put every ounce of effort into the projects, but did not have the same quality of work. In response to this challenge, I created a 3-part grading rubric that would focus on individual student learning. An example of this is as follows: 10-points for completion of the project’s requirements, 5-points for in class participation (involvement during lessons), and 5-points for effort (staying on-task during project time). This rubric sometimes changes based on the project, but the idea stays the same. I wanted to reward students for their hard work, and “hard work” looks different based on each individual student and their growth in my classroom. I think that an approach like this works well for evaluating classroom portfolio work because it does not compare one student’s work to another. Instead, it focuses on a student’s personal growth, effort in learning, and involvement in the class. After implementing these ideas, I saw a major positive change occur in my students’ dedication to the class, which was very encouraging.

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One thought on “Reading Reflection #5: Performance Assessments, Rubrics, Portfolios

  1. I love your three part grading system! I think I may introduce that with my classes next semester. I agree that although performance tests truly give a good show of what students have learned, creating a rubric for such a test is extremely difficult. I don’t know how to level it out, especially when all of the projects will be different. Perhaps if students know exactly what you expect to see, it will be easier to identify what constitutes what grade.

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