Digging Deeper: Performance Assessment

What is Performance Assessment?

During the growth spurt of statewide assessment that took place in the 1980s and ’90s, the term “performance assessment” referred to any test item type other than multiple-choice. Today, the term has broadened beyond open-response questions and prompts.

Today, states are looking for ways to use multi-part activities to reveal students’ abilities and depth of understanding of complex or multiple standards. Measured Progress has long led the way in performance assessment, putting vision into practice for both classroom and accountability testing.

Innovation and Implementation

Read our white paper to learn about the potential of performance assessments.

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We’ve demonstrated since the ’90s that valid assessment results can come from a wide range of student activities. To gather such information, we’ve worked with states to incorporate performance tasks into instruction and assessment, in projects such as :

  • Tasks including both group and individual outcomes in Kentucky
  • Hands-on vocational practicum tests in Rhode Island
  • Collaboration with teachers on instructional and assessment tasks in Ohio
  • “Practical inquiry” tasks in the current New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) science tests
  • Instructional and assessment tasks—plus training on scoring and range-finding—for ELA and mathematics in grades 1–high school with educators in Maryland

Our performance tasks follow one of two general models.

  • One type is made up of several multiple-choice and open-response items “clustered” around a common stimulus.
  • Another type uses a set of “scaffolded” tasks, stepping students through increasingly difficult exercises, leading to a final, synthesizing activity.

For both formative classroom assessment and summative programs, we’ve developed models for performance task test design, scoring, standard setting, and psychometric analysis that provide reliable and valid data.

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