Authentic assessment refers to the practice of assessing student mastery via the completion of real-world tasks in which the student applies knowledge and skill acquired in the instructional process. Authentic assessments may include writing assignments, individual or cooperative projects, portfolios, teacher observations, performance or demonstration assessments, or any other assigned task that provides evidence of competency. It is a good idea to use a selection of assessment types that match a variety of learning styles.
Demonstration or Performance Assessments
Authentic assessment may take the form of demonstration or performance. This means that a student has the opportunity to demonstrate, through practical means, that a standard has been mastered. For instance, a student might provide, through design and performance, evidence of mastery of a theater standard focused on knowledge of blocking, upstage, downstage, center stage, monologue and projection rather than via a paper-and-pencil vocabulary test. Such assessments can be used in other classes and tailored to different subject matter.
Portfolio assessments are often used when units are large or cover a number of standards. Assessment pieces contained in the portfolio provide evidence of mastery of individual standards or may provide evidence of increasing depth of comprehension of materials. For instance, a science portfolio may contain written vocabulary words associated with mollusks, drawings that outline structure and function and a three-dimensional model created by the student. This type of portfolio's value is that it allows students to demonstrate mastery by a variety of means – in this case, through writing, drawing and creative manipulation.
Oral assessments are popular with students who do not possess high-level writing skills. Oral assessments can take the form of storytelling or focus on documentation of question-and-answer periods in class. A teacher may use a student's oral responses to determine whether the content has been mastered. Student mastery can be assessed as part of a group exercise or individually in a private testing session. This type of assessment can be used informally with or without student knowledge, thus eliminating testing anxiety.
Project assessments provide the opportunity to demonstrate competency through completion of a project. Project assessments can be performed individually or collaboratively. Students may work together to complete a project in math that indicates proficiency in probability concepts. For example, a student may use a set of dice and record the results of rolls to learn about probability. A deck of cards might also be used to learn about probability.