Science JunctionProfessional Development

The first article in this series presents Assessment Vocabulary while the second article discusses Differentiating Performance Assessment.

Assessment Vocabulary

Since assessment is such a hot topic, many authors, organizations, and institutions are currently publishing articles and research reports on this subject. Trouble arises, however, in the vocabulary used in these publications, as many words seem to be used differently in different reports. Due to this plethora of confusing terminology, we have found it expedient to define the terms. The meanings we associate with these words have developed from our own assessment research with districts, schools, and teachers as well as from our work with the SouthEastern Region Vision for Education laboratory. However, we, as authors, must emphasize that we do NOT aver that our definitions are the only true and correct ones! We simply understand that, if people are going to discuss assessment, they must have a vocabulary in common.

For example, when we work with teachers in the field, we have quickly found that “portfolio” can mean many things to many people. Some see a portfolio as a folder or notebook containing all the student’s work. Others see a portfolio as a collection of a student’s best work. We contend that a portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work and that the purpose should be determined prior to collection. Such purposes may entail demonstrating growth, proficiency, or experience. These differing definitions for the simple word, “portfolio,” illustrate the importance of defining terms. In this chapter, we hope to negotiate a shared vocabulary.

This article will provide insight into the following topics:



Summative vs. Formative Evaluation

Relevance, Reliability & Validity

Traditional Assessment

Alternative Assessment

Authentic Assessment

Quality Assessment

Standards and Benchmarks


The first word which must be defined is “assessment,” itself. Assessment is the act of collecting information about individuals or groups of individuals in order to better understand them. The twin purposes of assessment are to provide feedback to students and to serve as a diagnostic tool for instruction. In essence, assessment answers the questions:
“Did the students achieve the intended standards?”
“If the student did not achieve the intended standards, will the feedback he/she received help improve the student’s performance?”
“Was the instruction effective?”
“If the instruction was NOT effective, how can I, the teacher, improve my instruction to meet the needs of all students?”
The results of the assessment are shared with both the students and the teacher. In this manner, should the assessment indicate a need for improvement, students can explore new study strategies and teachers can search out and implement new instructional techniques.


When researching assessment, it is not unusual to experience some confusion between the terms, “assessment” and “evaluation,” as these terms seem to be used interchangeably by some authors. To our minds, however, the two terms are not synonymous. Evaluation is a judgment regarding the quality or worth of the assessment results. This judgment is based upon multiple sources of assessment information. If each classroom assessment is a snapshot of what students know and are able to do, these snapshots can be collected into the photo album of evaluation.

However, the evaluative process goes beyond just collecting information; evaluation is concerned with making judgments based upon the collection. To continue the snapshot/photo album analogy, let’s suppose that this particular photo album belongs to a professional photographer. When she applies for a job, the photographer brings along her photo album (portfolio of best work). She has performed a personal assessment of each snapshot within the album, and has made a decision about whether or not to include each one. Then, based upon the multiple examples of the photographer’s work present in the album, the future employer judges the overall proficiency of the photographer. The photographer assessed her ongoing work and the future employer evaluated her worth as a photographer based upon multiple examples of her work.

Summative vs. Formative

Evaluation, then, is a summative process, whereas assessment is a formative one. The purpose of formative assessments is to provide feedback to students as they progress toward a goal. If this feedback is of a high quality, improvement in student performance can result. Summative processes have more of a gate-keeping function. For example, student applications to college are evaluated using a summative process and students are either accepted or rejected via this process. In the classroom, teachers use formative assessment on a daily basis, and then use the more summative “evaluation” to recommend report card marks at the end of a grading period. Unfortunately, the final evaluation, the “grade,” can only be as good as the assessment information which was collected. As in the computer aphorism, “Garbage in = garbage out.” If a teacher is producing poor assessment snapshots, the grade given will be of little use in determining what the students know or are able to do. The following vignette illustrates this point:

    As former classroom teachers, we sometimes reflect on our own poor performances as assessors and wish we could go back now and alleviate the harm we unknowingly did our students.
    For example, one year Nancy taught a young football star named Len. Len did not pass the first quarter of chemistry and was in danger of failing the second quarter. At this time, Nancy was using the multiple-choice, “pullout test” that accompanied the textbook to assess her student’s understanding of chemical concepts.

    However, during the second quarter of work, Nancy decided too many of her students were failing her class, and consequently viewed chemistry as a “hateful” subject. She decided that she needed to give her students an opportunity to view and appreciate chemistry as a lifelong learning experience. She wanted to make chemistry enjoyable for her students!

    So, during the study of gas laws, she decided to change her assessment strategy. Instead of taking a test, the student’s assessment experience would be a presentation of one of the gas laws. In this presentation, the student had to show fellow students the following: an authentic use of the gas law, a real world application of the law through a demonstration, and an explanation by example of the formula for determining some relevant factor, using the gas law.

    Not all Nancy’s students were supportive of this change in assessment. The gifted students, in particular, were opposed to the change, since they had been very successful under the old system. However, Nancy soon realized that many of the students, including Len, were excited about the possibility of viewing chemistry as it related to their “real” world.
    After several days of facilitated classroom work, the day for the actual assessment was close at hand. Nancy asked her students to help in creating a rubric for scoring their presentations. The students responded to this session with motivation and with the attitude, “This is do-able and I know exactly how I will be assessed.”

    The day for the presentations arrived and Len came to class carrying a bicycle tire, pump, soda pop cans, and posters. Len stood in front of the class and demonstrated how his gas law related to their work and how to calculate the pressure differences using the formulas from their text. He made a tremendous mess in the classroom with the soda pop and for weeks, his classmates teased him about the sticky pop on their chairs! However, he responded well to such teasing and became more confident and comfortable within the chemistry class.

    Len’s teacher, Nancy, also learned a few things that presentation day. The most depressing item was the fact that it took almost two quarters of the school year to realize the strengths and talents of this young man. From his presentation, it was obvious that Len understood some areas of chemistry even better than his teacher! However, the assessments made to date had not revealed this information.

    Nancy changed her assessment and instructional strategies in the classroom to meet the needs of all her multi-talented students. She increased her
    own assessment capacity thought the use of multiple types of assessments, rubrics, and student involvement in assessment through peer- and self-assessment activities.

    What happened to Len? He not only passed the second quarter of chemistry, but passed for the year and went on to college.

The above vignette illustrates how poor formative assessments can result in poor evaluations of students. Nancy was using the same type of assessment over and over in her classroom: a multiple-choice test. Obviously, Len’s qualities as a future chemist were not revealed through this type of assessment process. It was only through changing her assessment methods that Nancy came to realize Len’s grasp of chemical concepts. This led her to further exploration of alternative assessment techniques (and eventually to co-author this text).

Relevance, Reliability and Validity

This vignette also illustrates a further use of evaluation. Evaluation can be applied to the assessment process, itself, to determine if the assessments we have made are relevant, reliable, and valid. If they are relevant, then the assessments are tied to our classroom instruction. If would be highly irrelevant to assess skills we have not attempted to teach nor included in our curriculum. That does not mean, however, that all assessments made by all teachers are always relevant. For example, Debbie (a prospective teacher and student in one of Susan’s assessment classes) reports the following experience:

“I went to my daughter’s school for ‘Back to School Night,’ the night parents can meet all the teachers. I was particularly anxious to meet my daughter’s science teacher, Ms. Steeple, as my daughter was reporting academic difficulty in this class. In fact, my daughter had told me to expect a failing grade in science on her report card. During ‘Back to School Night,’ Ms Steeple explained her grading practices and revealed that many of her students currently had low marks in science. By way of explanation, Ms. Steeple produced her analysis of this phenomenon. According to her, most of the low cumulative grades could be attributed to the low scores earned on the pre-test for the current unit. When I questioned Ms. Steeple about WHY she would “count” scores earned on a PRE-test, she was unable to answer my question. In fact, she seemed to believe that ALL work should “count.” That night, when I got home, I talked with my daughter about her grade on this pre-test and she showed me the huge red “53” scrawled across the top of this paper. We celebrated with a trip to Dairy Queen, after I explained to my daughter that she ALREADY KNEW 53% of the material Ms. Steeple had not yet taught!”

Debbie’s story of her daughter’s experience in science class is not, alas, unique or uncommon. It is, however, the perfect example of irrelevant assessment.

Reliability involves the consistency of scores across evaluators, over time, or across different versions of a test. An assessment is reliable when the same answers receive the same score no matter when the assessment occurs or how or who does the scoring, or when students receive the same scores no matter which version of the test they take. To be valid, an assessment must measure what it is intended to measure, rather than extraneous features. An example of an invalid assessment of the ability to use a microscope correctly would be to give a pencil and paper test on the parts of the microscope. A more valid assessment would be to hand the student a slide and have him/her focus the slide under low and high power.

Evaluation, then, is the method we use to rate the design of our assessments. This process will involve examining all the assessments we have made through the lenses of the above listed criteria. Evaluation is done periodically, at specified times, whereas assessment is ongoing and continuous.

Traditional Assessment

While the above explanations hopefully clarify differences between evaluation and assessment, there still remain pockets of confusion to address. For example, in the current literature, assessment is not usually a stand-alone word. Many times, it is modified by an adjective preceding it, as “traditional assessment,” “alternative assessment,” or “authentic assessment.” Therefore, as we attempt to define assessment, we must also differentiate between these words. It is, perhaps, easiest to elucidate their meanings through a process of comparison. We will begin with traditional assessment.

Traditional assessment is any type of assessment in which students choose a response from a given list. Such assessments include the standard true/false quiz or multiple-choice test so familiar to students. However, matching exercises also fall under this category, as do fill-in-the-blank activities, if students are given a “word bank” from which to choose answers. In traditional assessments, then, students are expected to recognize that one particular choice best answers the question asked.

    Alternative Assessment

In contrast to traditional assessment, alternative assessment includes any assessment in which students create a response to a question. Here, again, we find some stock classroom activities, as short-answer and essay questions. In both of these exercises, students are called upon to respond to a question using their own ideas, in their own words. Of course, these are not the only activities which require student creativity in the classroom. Also included within this category are musical recitals, theme papers, drama performances, and student-made posters, art projects, and models, among many others. It should be evident, then, that when we ask teachers to consider “alternative” assessment, we are not asking them to invent new ways of assessing students. The above list illustrates that many alternative assessments are already in use in classroom around the country. We simply hope to encourage MORE teachers to use these types of assessment MORE often.

Therefore, the method used to answer questions is the primary difference between traditional and alternative assessment. The critical criteria for differentiating between these two types of assessment, then, is to determine if a data set of answers is given to students. The definition of authentic assessment, however, is not quite so clear cut.

    Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment tasks are ones that elicit demonstrations of knowledge and skills in ways that resemble “real life” as closely as possible. When students participate in politically-oriented debates, write for the school newspaper, conduct student government, club, or research group meetings, or perform scientific research, they are engaging in “real life” tasks. Therefore, such activities would fall under the category of authentic assessment. Students appear to learn bet when they see the importance for learning and when the learning environment is familiar to them. Authentic scenarios can provide this environment and relevance to students. To implement such authentic assessment, the teacher must strive to assess students as they would be assessed in the work place. Professions where advancement is based solely upon results of periodic pencil and paper tests are rare!

    Quality Assessment

One further term, prevalent in recent literature, is worth including in this chapter. This is the term, “Quality Assessment.” When assessment means that we are clear in our expectations of students and when we share those expectations “up-front,” we are practicing quality assessment. Within quality assessment, it is also necessary to provide good feedback to students, use assessment data to improve instruction, and utilize a variety of assessment methods. One key to understanding quality assessment is to view assessment as an on-going, student-participatory activity, not just as something the teacher “does” to students!

Before leaving these vocabulary words, a few examples may prove useful. The following sample assessments might occur in a high school chemistry class, at the end of a unit on acids and bases:


An acid*
a) turns red litmus paper to blue
b) releases hydroxide ions in solution
c) tastes sour
d) feels slippery

*The correct answer is c.


Differentiate between an acid and a base.


Your mother took a TUMS‘ tablet last night for acid indigestion. Why? Trace the TUMS‘ through her system describing the correct chemical reactions. Why did she burp? (SouthEastern Regional Vision for Education, 1998)

A similar set of assessments might occur in an elementary classroom, in which the instruction is focused on handling money:


Noel wishes to buy three apples. If each apple costs 11 cents, how much money must she spend?
a) 31 cents
b) 22 cents
c) 33 cents
d) $1.33


Noel has $1.00 to spend on candy. She wants to buy a lollipop for herself and one for each of the other 10 players on her softball team. Will Noel have enough money to buy these lollipops?


(Teacher’s instructions) Jesse, take a $5.00 bill from your practice (play) money to the “classroom store.” Choose one of the items in the store (nothing in the store costs over
$3.00) and pay the storekeeper. Noel, as the store keeper, you are responsible for giving Jesse his correct change.

These examples simply re-emphasize the meanings of traditional, alternative, and authentic assessment. They clearly show that traditional assessment allows students to choose from a list, while alternative assessment requires the creation of a response. Authentic assessment tasks are tied to everyday occurrences in the student’s normal world.

By defining these terms, we hope to clarify the meanings of these words for the readers of this book. We must emphasize, however, that we do not wish to imply that one type of assessment is “good,” while another is “bad” or that one type of assessment stimulates higher order thinking than another. There is a place for all types of assessment in the classroom, and we have seen many challenging examples of all three assessment types. One example of a thought-provoking multiple-choice question is contributed by George Dawson, from Florida State University. This question, used in a science class studying the flow of energy in systems, reads:

“One winter, seven sailors are shipwrecked on a barren arctic island which has water but neither soil nor vegetation. A crate of corn flakes and one containing seven hens are also cast ashore with them. In order to survive as long as possible, the sailors should:

a) feed the corn flakes to the hens as long as they last and then kill and eat the hens.
b) kill and eat the hens and then eat the corn flakes
c) feed the corn flakes to the hens and then eat the eggs which they produce.
d) eat the corn flakes, giving none to the hens, and then eat the hens when they die of starvation.”

So as not to squash any discussions, or heated debates about this question, we decline to provide the “correct” answer to this question. However, we will suggest that responders to the question consider the efficiency of conserving energy through a food chain.

Standards and Benchmarks

At the beginning of this chapter, in the definition of assessment, we used another term which may have caused some confusion. We stated that assessment helps determine if students have achieved some standard. This word, “standard”, and its frequent companion, “benchmark” are used within the current literature in a dizzying array of combinations and usages. From an overview of many research reports and publications, we have compiled a short list of terms which are used equivalently with standards and benchmarks:


Therefore, we feel the need to clarify our meanings of these terms.

Standards are, simply, statements of what should be taught. They establish a level of achievement, quality of performance, or degree of proficiency expected from students. Standard statements are generally rather broad in scope (see examples below). Benchmarks, on the other hand, are used to explicate the standards. Benchmarks explain what students must do to meet the standards; they focus on explicit behaviors or particular products. State departments of education usually establish these standards and benchmarks for courses taught in their public schools. However, there are also national standards and benchmarks for many subject areas, as science, foreign language, English language arts, history, arts, health, civics, economics, geography, physical education, mathematics, and social studies (Marzano & Kendall, 1996).

The following examples from diverse curricula may serve to help differentiate between standards and benchmarks. The terms used below are authentic to the source. Please consult the above table for clarification.

From Florida’s Sunshine State Standards in the area of reading, under the K-2 Language Arts curriculum (Florida Department of Education, 1996):

Standard: The student uses the reading process effectively.
Benchmark: Predicts what a passage is about based on its title and illustrations.

From North Carolina’s Health Occupations curriculum for grades 9-12, in the Biomedical Technology course (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 1995):

Competency: Determine a career path based on personal qualifications.
Objective: Design a personal career path

From the National Center for History in Schools History Standard Project (Kendall & Marzano, 1997) for grades 5-6:

Standard: Understands the historical perspective.
Benchmark: Evaluates historical fiction according to the accuracy of its content and the author’s interpretations.

In the above examples, it is clear that the first statement, whether designated as a standard or a competency, is a broad view of what students should know and be able to do. “Using the reading process effectively” could encompass many skills. The second statements above help clarify which skills or activities may be needed in order to ascertain if students have achieved the written standard. Continuing with the elementary example, one of the activities needed to determine if students can use the reading process effectively is encompassed by making predictions about a reading passage. In this manner, the benchmark provides greater specificity than the standard about what students should know and be able to do. So, benchmarks list a particular activity that students must engage in or it recommends the creation of a particular product. These activities and products are then used to move students toward the achievement of the overall standard. Since the benchmark breaks the standard into smaller increments, it is usual to find several benchmarks written for each standard. By completing all the incremental units of the benchmarks, the students construct the whole, which is the standard.

This chapter, then, has served as an introduction to several assessment terms. We chose the terms to include here based upon those used most prevalently in current literature. From reading this text, we hope you have a clearer understanding of :

  • Assessment
  • Evaluation
  • Relevance
  • Reliability
  • Validity
  • Traditional Assessment
  • Alternative Assessment
  • Authentic Assessment
  • Quality Assessment
  • Standards
  • Benchmarks

We hope you have profited from the examples given in this text.


Florida Department of Education. (1996). Sunshine state standards.
Tallahassee, FL: Florida DOE.

Kendall, J.S. & Marzono, R.J. (1997). Content knowledge: A compendium
of standards and benchmarks for K-12 education. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzono, R.J. & Kendall, J.S. (1996). Designing standards-based districts,
schools, and classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (1995). Course blueprint for
biomedical technology. Raleigh, NC: NCDPI.

SouthEastern Regional Vision for Education. (1998). Improving classroom
assessment: A toolkit for professional developers. Tallahassee, FL:

Differentiating Performance Assessments

Thus far, we have defined many terms. In doing so, we have classified assessment into three categories: traditional, alternative, and authentic. Yet, one further term necessitates clarification. That term is “performance-based assessment.”

This article will provide insight into the following topics:

Definition of Performance

The Big Picture

Definition of Performance-Based Assessment

Teacher Observations


Constructed Responses

Products: Logs, Journals, Notebooks, Portfolios & Projects


Definitions of Performance

When we think of a performance, we may envision a musical recital, a concert, a play. However, a broader view is needed if we wish to understand performance-based assessment. In performance-based assessment, student performances may include all of the above examples, but are not limited to the arts. Driving a car in driver’s education class, making a speech in Public Speaking class, constructing a birdhouse in Industrial Arts class – all can be construed as performances.

In our work with teachers, we have found some confusion between true performances and classroom activities. Many times, teachers have students perform very enjoyable activities which do little to forward the curriculum for the course. A true performance, conversely, demonstrates student mastery of a portion of the curriculum. Therefore, in a true performance, the instruction is linked to the curriculum, which is linked to the assessment. This relationship is shown in the following graphic:

The Big Picture

We have found this differentiation between activities and performances to be one of the harder concepts to convey to teachers. This may be due to the fact that teachers love a particular activity and wish to include it simply because it is so enjoyable. One example that springs to mind is the chemistry teacher who enjoyed making peanut brittle with her students at Christmas. The scientific sounding title of this activity was “Partial Degradation of a Six Carbon Sugar, Utilizing Protein Inclusions.” Although it sounded scientific, very little learning occurred and the activity was not effective in forwarding the curriculum. Therefore, the construction of the product of this activity (the peanut brittle) could not be classified as a true performance. We have no quarrel with a teacher who wishes to include such an enjoyable activity in her classroom repertoire, but we do ask that only true performances be assessed.

Definition of Performance-Based Assessment

To assess such performances, we use prearranged criteria. The criteria are shared with the students before the performance and are derived from the learning outcomes or standards we wish to advance through our instruction. (The development of such criteria are discussed later, in Chapter Seven of this book, under the heading of “Rubrics”). Therefore, performance-based assessment is defined as the direct, systematic observation of actual student performances according to pre-established performance criteria.

Teacher Observations

Many methods can be employed in order to obtain these “direct, systematic observations of student performances.” Basically, teachers may observe students during the performance, ask students questions both before and after performances, and examine student work (McColskey & O’Sullivan, 1995). The observations of students may be formal or informal. Formal observations tend to be more structured than informal. The teacher using a formal method may collect data using an observation instrument, as a rubric for the performance. She/he is watching one particular student or one particular group and comparing the behavior she/he see to some criteria. In an informal observation, no one student or group may be singled out for observation and the teacher may not have predetermined criteria in mind. However, she/he may still collect data about students in the form of anecdotal teacher notes or narratives.

For example, informal observations are made every day in the classroom. It is through informal observations that teachers learn about their students. They may learn that Jackie tends to wander away from her group or that Matt never volunteers information. In contrast, formal observations are more likely to occur only on special occasions, when the stage has been set, so to speak. Formal observations occur most often during culminating events, as at the end of a unit or project and are often termed “summative” assessments.


Questioning students is another method teachers use to assess performance. These questions can be oral or written, with one right answer or many possible answers. The student may be asked to participate in an interview, write a paper, write essays, complete a survey, give an oral report, perform self-assessments, perform peer assessments or simply respond out loud to short-answer questions in class. Through acute questioning techniques, a teacher can assess what students know and are able to do. The responses to such questions, then, can be classified as performances and questioning, without a doubt, can be a performance assessment.

Although responding to questioning can be a performance, other classroom activities are more commonly classified in this area. These activities include demonstrations of skills and knowledge, role-playing activities, construction of models, projects, exhibitions, and compilation of journals or portfolios. Each of these activities has its own definition and its own set of assessment criteria.
For clarity, the following graphic classifies types of assessments under two headings. The “Selected Response Items” are those which are more traditional in nature and require students to choose answers from a given list. On the right side of the graphic, “Performance-Based Assessments” are broken into three sub-categories. These categories include Constructed Responses, Products, and Performances. (See Table 5-1 below.)

Table 5.1
Assessment Approaches and Methods

While the approach to assessment may originate from either these traditional methods or from the performance-based methods, this portion of Chapter Five concentrates on the tools of performance assessment. These tools, “Constructed Responses, Products, and Performances” are used in student assessment to determine what students know and are able to do. The tools involve real world skills and are interdisciplinary in nature, in that they can be used for assessment purposes in all subjects. The use of such tools constitutes one further example of how assessment can be integrated with instruction. These tools enable students to become more skillful in lifelong tasks and to demonstrate their understandings of content-related concepts.

Constructed Responses

In the above table, the “Constructed Responses” heading includes such tools as short answer sentences/paragraphs, diagrams/illustrations, graphic organizers, graphs/tables, and matrices. A brief definition and sample are given below for each of these tools. Then, an overview of the assessment utility of the tool is elaborated.

Short answer sentences/paragraphs may be used to answer either open response or open-ended questions. Open response questions are currently more commonly used within school settings. Such open response questions call for student-constructed responses, but generally possess a “correct” answer. For example, “Who invented the electric light bulb?” is an example of an open response question. Students do not choose their answer to this question from a list, but must construct a response. However, those students who answer with a name other than Thomas A. Edison will most likely find they have responded incorrectly!

Open response questions are frequently used to check comprehension or to explore the recall of information by students. However, such questions have utility beyond this scope. Essay questions which encourage students to synthesize information or to evaluate solutions would be examples of the use of higher-order thinking skills in open response questions. For example, a business management teacher, distributing information from various banking institutions, might ask students to choose the best account for a specified business. Students would review the needs of the business in order to choose the correct account.

In contrast to open response questions, open-ended questions have more than one right answer. Students are expected to justify their answers, based upon concepts learned in class. For example, “What two physical characteristics would be most suitable for supporting and sustaining life in animals living within the arctic tundra?” is an open-ended question. Like the open response question, the open-ended question fits under the “Constructed Response” category, in that students do not select their answers from a given list. However, this sample question demonstrates that there are many possible avenues for responses. To answer the question, students may focus on protection from cold (fur, feathers, fat), adaptive feeding mechanisms (claws, teeth, jaws, beaks), or locomotion devices (hooves, webbed appendages, wings). As long as student actually discuss physical characteristics (and not such adaptive behaviors as hibernation) and relate such characteristics to conditions within the arctic tundra, a variety of responses can be “correct.”

Open-ended questions encourage original, imaginative, and creative student thought. The nature of the question usually demands such critical thinking skills as analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. In fact, the most common use of open-ended questions in assessment is to uncover the thinking processes involved in student decision making.

Like open-ended or open response short answer questions, diagrams and illustrations are examples of student-constructed responses. These use pictorial displays to uncover student knowledge. The uses of diagrams/illustrations for assessment purposes are varied. Students may diagram the set-up of equipment for a chemistry experiment, or draw a blueprint for a house. They may create computer-assisted drawings, showing intricate details of engineering projects. They may draw a picture of an animal to answer the “arctic tundra” question above. When any of these techniques are used for assessment, however, the criteria for judging each should be clearly communicated to students via a rubric distributed prior to the creation of the diagram or illustration.

Graphic organizers,
according to Burke (1994, p. 118) are “mental maps that represent key skills like sequencing, comparing and contrasting, and classifying and involve students in active thinking.” The most common types of graphic organizers used in schools are webs and concept maps. Such tools help students to see the connections between and the differences among concepts. The following simple concept map may illustrate this use of graphic organizers:

Webs are simply more complex concept maps, in which there are many cross-linkages between a variety of concepts. The above simple concept map could be converted to a web by adding more concepts. For example, other animal classifications as reptiles, birds, fish could be added. There would be many cross linkages between such groups, which would help students to visualize the differences and similarities among animals in the animal kingdom. Venn Diagrams, such as the one introduced in chapter one (depicted here, again) are also often categorized as graphic organizers. Like concept maps and webs, Venn Diagrams show the relationship between ideas. However, Venn Diagrams are uniquely adept at illustrating the overlap between concepts. One example of a Venn Diagram appeared as the Big Picture graphic at the beginning of this chapter. In this Venn Diagram, we see that where curriculum, instruction, and assessment overlap, we achieve Quality Education.

Flow charts
, another type of graphic organizer, may be used to encourage students to sequence events. Students may be asked to transform the written directions for a scientific experiment into a flow chart before beginning the procedure. Through the use of this technique, the teacher assures that students read the procedure and understand the steps. The following illustrates part of the experimental procedure for a Geiger counter lab. The flow chart clearly shows the sequence of events to follow. It also helps the student to organize data collection points.

Geiger Counter Lab

Flow charts are also commonly used in order to classify objects into categories. For example, many field guides use flow charts to help differentiate between species of animals (birds, insects, snakes, etc.). The simple flow chart below shows the differentiation between a square and a rectangle:

Some flow charts may use “yes” or “no” questions to direct users towards classification. Computer manuals often include these types of flow charts in their “troubleshooting” sections, to encourage users towards a step by step analysis of a problem.

No matter the form of the graphic organizer (map, web, Venn diagram, flow chart) used for assessment, all such organizers explicate student understanding of concepts. Graphic organizers are particularly helpful in diagnosing student pre- or misconceptions.

Like the other forms of constructed responses previously discussed, graphs and tables help make the thinking of the students evident to the teacher. Students within an elementary classroom might be asked to construct a graph to answer the question, “What shoe type are most of the students in this classroom wearing today?” The graph would then show the relative numbers of sneakers, dress shoes, boots, etc. worn that day. . To aid younger elementary students in constructing the graph, stickers of shoes could be placed on a grid. Such a graph could be used to assess counting skills. Color recognition could also be tested in this manner, with a simple change in the original question.

Another use of graphing might be to display data collected in a science experiment. One first grade teacher shared such an activity with the authors. She began a science activity by removing the lid from an electric popcorn popper. She then placed the popper on a tablecloth spread on the floor of the classroom. Then, she placed popcorn in the uncovered popper and turned it on. When the corn popped, some of it landed in the popper, some landed on the tablecloth, and some landed in the far corners of the room! She asked student to count the pieces of popcorn in each location and then graph this information. The graph helped students visualize the relative numbers of kernels landing in the differing locations. After students constructed their graphs, the teacher conducted a whole class discussion on the findings. By using the graphed data, the teacher was able to elicit descriptions of the popcorn based upon energy. For example, the “high energy” popcorn landed further away from the popper than “low energy” kernels. In this one assessment activity involving the construction of a graph, then, the teacher was able to teach graphing skills, reinforce counting skills, and introduce the science concept of energy.

Tables, like graphs, are often used to help students discern patterns. A science teacher may ask students to record weights and volumes of pure substances (carbon, tin, lead, zinc) in a table next to the given density of the substance. From this data, the teacher may ask that students hypothesize the mathematical relationship between the three terms. Similarly, a law enforcement class studying forensics may collect measurements of footprints, strides, and height. This class would then be asked to derive a relationship between foot size and height or stride length and height. In this manner, organizing the data into tables would help students see the patterns embedded in the data. Therefore, the assessment activity of creating the table would forward the teaching of a new concept.

Tables may also be utilized to organize data into easily reviewed units. This particular use of tables is often evident in math classes in which students are solving word problems. For example, a teacher may require students to construct simple tables like the one below, utilized for a “rate times time equals distance” problem:



Train A
Train B

Such tables help the student organize the data given in the problem, and help separate the relevant information from the irrelevant. A table like this one can be an assessment tool because it offers valuable feedback to the teacher on student understanding of the problem solving process. Similarly, a table can clarify information that appears confusing when written in paragraph form. The sample paragraph below illustrates such a convoluted, bewildering mass of data:

The Sesame Street students took three test during the first nine weeks of school. Big Bird made a 52 on the first test, but improved to a 98 on the last test. Kermit scored an 87 on the second, Animal Kingdom, test, but only received a 72 on the last exam, Energy. On the Magnets test, Cookie Monster received a score of 78, but Kermit made a 48. Big Bird and Cookie Monster both received the same grade on the second test, which was 5 points higher than Kermit’s score on this test. On the final test, Cookie Monster made an 88. Which student showed continuous improvement in test scores?

Before a table of the data is constructed, it is hard to see that Big Bird made the continuous improvement. However, this fact is easily perceived by studying the table below:

First Test: Magnets
Second Test:Animal Kingdom


Big Bird 52 92 98
Kermit 48 87 72
Cookie Monster 78 92 88

A teacher might ask students to construct a table like the one above in order to assess reading skills or charting skills. When the data is even more complex, however, or when detailed comparisons of data sets are needed, a matrix takes the place of a simple table. (See the Bloom’s Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences matrix below).

The matrix above plots levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy versus Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Teachers wishing to incorporate questions and assignments which support both of these educational theories may use the matrix to plan instruction.

Matrices, like tables, graphic organizers, illustration, diagrams, and short answer questions, can all serve as assessment tools in the classroom. Through the use of such tools, the teacher integrates the instruction with assessment, thereby advancing the study of the content within the assessment activity. All of the tools discussed so far fall under the Constructed Responses sub-category. We now move from this division to tools which are classified as “Products.” While many products from this list are familiar to teachers, several warrant detailed analysis. Within this portion of the chapter, we will distinguish the characteristics and uses of logs, journal, notebooks, portfolios, and projects.

Products: Logs, Journals, Notebooks, Portfolios & Projects

A log provides documentary evidence of events and may also show the progression of such events. One example of a log is a patient’s hospital chart. The ward clerk “logs” medications, laboratory testing results, and therapy in this chart in order to establish a record of the patient’s medical treatment. Police stations utilize logs to protect evidence from contamination, loss, or misuse. Business people “log on” to protected computer sites in order to obtain or distribute sensitive or private information. In schools, logs may be used in assessment to verify student actions. For example, students may be asked to keep scientific logs while running science experiments. The addition of growth factors to plants, as well as recorded heights of the plants at specified intervals are examples of data included in such logs. A detailed log can also help convince a teacher that, indeed, the student performed certain actions. In addition, it can reveal the exact nature of those actions. Because of its documentary properties, logs are frequently utilized to support student assertions or conclusions.

Journals are similar to logs, in that they provide a record of the progression of events. Generally, however, journals do not have the legalistic, evidentiary purpose of a log. The Diary of Anne Frank is one example of a journal. While this diary documents events, it flavors those events with the opinions, feelings, and perceptions of the author. This “flavoring” of data with the consciousness of the author is what makes journals so useful to teachers. In the “Good Morning, Miss Toliver” video (Foundation for Advancements in Science & Education, 1993), Ms. Toliver asks her math students to record “what you learned today.” By reading the journals, Ms. Toliver can ascertain not only which concepts were conveyed to students, but the level of understanding of the concepts achieved by her students. She can also uncover any frustrations that the students are experiencing. Tobias (1993) encourages the use of math journals with students endeavoring to overcome math anxiety. When confronted with a difficult math problem, students are asked to write down their feelings and any information they think might be pertinent to the problem. The students’ writings help Tobias diagnose misconceptions and knowledge gaps, while helping direct the students’ thoughts toward possible solution avenues. One of the authors uses an electronic “Dialogic Journal” with students enrolled in World Wide Web-based classes. Such students may never meet in person, but are expected to collaborate in preparing on-line conferences, participate in on-line discussion groups, and produce solutions to contextual problems conveyed to them over the Web. The Dialogic Journal is, in essence, a chat room for a small group of students. In the journal, students may discuss class assignments, difficulties with the Web technology, and concerns and issues related to the class. The teacher uses the captured discussions to assess the classroom environment experienced by these virtual students.

Notebooks, like logs and journals, are composed of written documents. However, a notebook is similar to a file folder, in that it commonly holds a collection of all information pertinent to a topic. A cookbook is one example of a notebook. Recipes within the cookbook are divided into categories as breads, vegetables, entrees, desserts, etc. Other sections may also be present, covering such topics as weights and measures, planning meals, presentation of dishes, or table settings. However, all the information present in the book is related to preparing food. A good cookbook will contain all the information necessary to help the reader prepare and serve delicious, nutritious meals and thereby become a successful cook.

Students sometimes create their own “cookbooks” within the school setting by voluntarily compiling notebooks for their classes. A science notebook, for example, may contain lecture notes, copies of science exams, lab reports, and completed homework assignments. This science notebook is a file folder for all the science information presented in the class. The student collects this information in hopes of utilizing the notebook as a study guide for upcoming exams. The completeness of the information is of primary importance to such a student, if he/she wishes to become a successful science student. A missing piece might result in a gap in knowledge, which could adversely affect the student’s exam score.

Occasionally, teachers will require students to “keep a notebook.” The purposes of this assignment are varied, but may include teaching organizational skills to students, verifying that ungraded assignments are being completed by students, providing parents with a collection of all student work, and producing documentary evidence to justify a grade. In such teacher-required notebooks, the teacher usually sets the parameters for the collection of data. In fact, he/she may provide handouts to students, specifying assignments to be collected and placed in the notebook.

Notebooks may be helpful for assessment purposes, as they contain the totality of work produced by a student. Such data can be analyzed to track student performance over time, determine particular content areas/concepts in which the student experiences difficulty, or serve as a basis for student self-assessment.

Portfolios, like notebooks, are collections of student work. However, a portfolio is defined as a purposeful, integrated collection of student work showing effort, progress, or a degree of proficiency. Portfolios are often defined by the purpose underlying the collection of artifacts. For example, before the current boom in portfolio use in the classroom, artists and models assembled portfolios. Such portfolios could be classified as Best Work portfolios, as the owner of the portfolio included only those drawings or photographs which best displayed his/her talent. Scrapbooks and photo albums constitute another class of portfolios in common usage. The artifacts in these portfolios are a collection of mementos, so this class of portfolio is known as the Memorabilia portfolio. Almost everyone has assembled this type of portfolio, at one time or another. If doubtful of this fact, empty your wallet or purse onto a tabletop. Then, divide the contents into useful articles and mementos. You will be surprised at the number of items you carry on a daily basis that have no practical use in everyday life!

Growth portfolios are a third category of portfolios. In such portfolios, the emphasis is on change. The elementary writing portfolio below demonstrates how the writing of an elementary student changed from second grade to third. Note that in the second grade sample, on the left, the student has self-assessed (in red) and corrected one capitalization error and one spelling error (but missed correcting the spelling of “pregnant”). In the third grade sample, on the right, the student has moved from writing about family events to addressing the President of the United States! The writing is now in cursive, and longer sentences (albeit run-on sentences) are present.

Second Grade
Third Grade

One other type of portfolio is the Skills Portfolio. Here, the owner of the portfolio assembles documentation to verify that he/she is proficient at a particular skill or set of skills. For example, many states require beginning teachers to assemble a Skills Portfolio, documenting evidence of effective teaching. Veteran teachers applying for National Board Certification compile similar portfolios to demonstrate advanced competencies in teaching skills. In some high schools, students are encouraged to collect work samples that demonstrate employability skills. These student portfolios serve the same purpose as a resume, in that the student provides the potential employer with a copy of the portfolio. In this manner, the prospective employer can ascertain what the applicant knows and is able to do.

Each of the four types of portfolios, Best Work, Memorabilia, Growth, and Skills, has utility as assessment tools. Asking students to assemble Best Work portfolios encourages self-assessment and builds self-esteem. The Best Work portfolios can then be displayed at parent conferences, during Open House Night, or in the school’s display case or media center.

Memorabilia portfolios appear at first to have no function in the school setting. However, the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club requires such a portfolio, documenting club activities for those chapters wishing to be awarded “Chapter of the Year” honors. Personal Memorabilia portfolios may also be assembled by students in art classes, or used in language arts courses to stimulate writing.

The example above of the elementary writing portfolio is a classic example of the use of a Growth Portfolio in a classroom. At the end of second grade, the portfolio was passed to the third grade teacher. By reviewing the portfolios, the third grade teacher could assess the writing skills of the students, and then plan her writing curriculum for the year. Of course, this writing Growth portfolio also makes a cherished keepsake for a parent! One of the authors also uses a Growth portfolio as the primary assessment tool for a directed individual study course she teaches. This course, for licensed health professionals, encourages the student to learn new skills within his/her own health field.

The portfolio begins with a letter from the student’s supervisor, noting that the knowledge in the portfolio is new to the student and not currently a part of his/her routine daily duties. Then, the student writes a five-page research paper on a new medical procedure, treatment, or process. In addition to this research, the student must create an assessment instrument for his/her own job performance and then use this instrument to perform a self-assessment. Two other artifacts in the Growth portfolio highlight the potential of the student. One requirement is a resource list of healthcare professionals within the licensure area of the student, two of which have to be at the national level (as officers of professional national organizations). The other requirement is for students to create a researched list of potential job opportunities related to the health care field, for which the student will qualify once he/she receives her degree. Once the portfolio is assembled, it documents not only new knowledge the student has acquired within one semester, but serves as a planning tool for the student’s future.

The Skills portfolio, of course, has a multitude of uses in the classroom. Long’s (Long, 1997) students designed their own report card and then documented their “grades” through the use of a Skills portfolio. The report card used a Likert scale, as:

1=Most of the time (seldom needs help)
2=Sometimes (may need help to get started)
3=Beginning to do (needs help to complete work)
4= Does not complete work (Long, 1997, p. 37)

To support these descriptors, in math, for example, students collected artifacts to demonstrate the “Uses basic operations” skill (Long, 1997, p.37). The students then assessed their own work, and assigned one of the above descriptors to this skill.

Butler describes the design of the Skills portfolio used in her tenth grade chemistry class in the following manner:

The first portion of the portfolio was based on the Florida Department of Education Course Student Performance Standards…I distributed these standards evenly into four Learning Activity sheets for students. Students were given one Learning Activity sheet for each of our four nine-week grading periods. The sheets were used as a basis for student proofs. Proofs constituted documentation that the knowledge described in the Learning Activity had actually been achieved by the student (Butler, 1997).

Therefore, Butler’s students had to “prove,” or collect evidence to document the successful attainment of a particular skill. Samples skills from this chemistry-related portfolio included “Explain the organization of the Periodic Table of Elements, Determine atomic number and mass number when number of protons, neutrons, and electrons is specified, Solve stoichiometric problems (Florida Department of Education, 1991). A sample of student work can be viewed below:

Before utilizing any type of portfolio in the classroom, however, it is important to plan the purpose for use, the design, and the assessment of the portfolio. The following list of design questions are recommended by the authors:

1) Is the purpose of the portfolio instructional in nature, to support learning or is the portfolio assembled only for assessment purposes? Such questions will help determine the types of artifacts the students will collect. A portfolio assembled solely for summative assessment purposes may contain “best works” pieces, rather than a continuum of student work.

2) What goal am I trying to attain by using portfolios in my classroom? For example, am I trying to promote self-assessment? Student reflection on their own learning? Problem solving? Particular skills? Higher order thinking? The goal for the portfolio will determine the design of the portfolio. For example, if you are promoting self-esteem, a Best Works portfolio appears appropriate. If, on the other hand, you wish your students to prove their proficiency at content-related skills, a Skills portfolio is indicated. A portfolio promoting student reflection would contain many subjective, journal-like artifacts, whereas a problem-solving portfolio might contain more objectively focused work.

3) What types of artifacts will be collected? Will only written work be accepted, or will videotapes, posters, computer disks, etc. be acceptable? How many artifacts are necessary for documentation of a skill, goal, or purpose? The decisions you make here will impact the size of the portfolio and its physical characteristics. If you envision a notebook, then perhaps only written work can be accepted. If you are planning an electronic portfolio, all data may be stored on a disk. The decisions you make here will be influenced by the storage capacity of your classroom! We recommend the use of single entries to “prove” a skill, rather than multiple entries. Surely if the student was successful once, he/she can be so again! The number of artifacts also defines the type of tool. If ALL student work is collected, the tool is a notebook, not a portfolio.

4) How will artifacts be selected? Will the students select them or will the teacher select them? How often will the portfolio be updated (artifacts added)? Must the students keep copies of all potential portfolio artifacts, or will the teacher maintain a file for this purpose? What are the criteria for selecting artifacts (how will you or the students decide if a particular artifact documents a skill, purpose or goal)? For example, if you wish the portfolio to promote self-assessment, the students should choose the artifacts. Older students may keep their own working files, while younger ones may need help with this process, as they have not yet developed organizational skills.

5) How will you orient students to the use of the portfolio? We recommend that you start slowly, giving students plenty of support and practice. A structured portfolio, in which expectations are explicated to students is recommended over a more open, unstructured design. Remember that change is difficult, and be prepared for some student resistance to this new procedure in your class. Perseverance and consistency are two key factors in the success of portfolio implementation.

6) How will the portfolio be assessed? A scoring guide or rubric is essential for this task, and this guide should be shared with students before data collection begins. Constructing the guide before assigning the work will prevent student frustration, enhance the matching of the purpose to the artifacts, and ease the assessment task for the teacher. It is much simpler to assess an assignment, if the plan for assessing is written beforehand. In this manner, you do not “put off” tackling that huge mound of papers, dreading the moment when you must confront the task!

Once these design questions are addressed, the portfolio can be planned and implemented. Although it may seem to be a monumental undertaking, the research indicates that portfolio assessment reaps huge benefits for the students and for the teacher. The following quotes demonstrate some of these rewards:

As I watch my students’ portfolios fill up with entries each year, I become more knowledgeable about my students as individual learners (and people). This knowledge helps me effectively re-teach difficult math concepts and hone in on particular areas of weakness (Clarkson, 1997).

As I reflect on my first year of portfolio activities, I am pleased with the increased commitment to learning I have begun to foster in my students. I have always felt that students need to feel safe, secure, and appreciated for their uniqueness before they take risks to try new ideas. Portfolios put this belief to the test (Long, 1997).

Perhaps the thing I like best about portfolios is the time I gain for planning, instruction, and interacting with students. I am freed from collecting and grading papers all the time, because I don’t look at every piece of work my students complete (Williams, 1997).

From comments such as these, it is easy to see the advantages of well-planned portfolio implementation. Like portfolios, projects fit under the “product” category of performance-based assessment. Projects can be defined as a compendium of complex assignments, each directed toward a common goal. Projects, like all performance-based assessments should be designed and selected to teach core curriculum content standards and should be scored using a rubric which was shared with students “up-front.” Students should be given some choice as to the activities they will perform or the roles they will assume within the project. In addition, students should be required to meet interim deadlines for the project (which will aid the procrastinating student), to participate in planning the project (aid for the disorganized student) and to reflect on project activities (aid for the “surface” learner).

Of course, projects at different grade levels will vary in level of difficulty. The following examples may help in further clarifying the word, “project.”

Elementary Level
Students study the origin of holidays and participate in meaningful activities, as planting a tree for Arbor Day, visiting a veteran’s hospital on Memorial Day, etc.
Students contribute articles to the “Daily News,” a compilation of student essays about class activities which is distributed to parents each week.
Students study the systems of the body and make life-size posters showing the location of major body organs.
Students plan and design an appropriate backyard play area for a pet.

Middle School Level
Students design and build model racecars to test the effect of tire sizes, gear ratios, and body design.
Students compete in science competitions in which they design and perform experiments to answer a research question.
Students plan, write, and produce a video based on a historical event or upon literature.
History students produce a museum exhibit by collecting folk songs surrounding a particular time period or historical event (Civil War, pioneer life, Industrial Revolution).

High School Level
History students plan and raise funds for a “Roman Tour of Great Britain.”
Trade and industry students design, construct, build, and sell a house.
Science students reclaim an endangered estuary through clean up efforts and then turn the estuary into a “living classroom” for elementary students.
Language Arts students write a Canterbury-like tale concerning modern American teenagers hanging out at the local fast food restaurant.

As evidenced by the above lists, projects can be the result of both cooperative work and individual effort. No matter which type of project is implemented in the classroom, however, Lewin and Shoemaker warn of some common project “pitfalls.” The following are their descriptors of these “negative phenomena:”

The Razzle Dazzle: The performance has a lot of flash but no substance.

The Parasite: The parents pick the topic. The student may do the work but has no interest or ownership in the project. Moms or Dads, however get to live out their dreams/interests/fantasies through their child’s performance.
Scaffolding: The student picks a project of personal interest, but may not do any of the actual work. It is difficult to determine how much scaffolding (shoring up) by others (usually parents) occurred.

The Fizzle: Not enough guidance or direction is provided. The task is assigned, and students are expected to miraculously produce a fantastic project in six weeks. They rarely do.

The Celebration: This category results from an erroneous belief that performances should be showcases – festivals, parties, or other gala events – without evaluation. Everyone should be honored – no matter the quality of the work.

The Uneven Playing Field: Some students draw from many resources (e.g. parents, computers, libraries, and art supplies) in creating their projects, while other students draw from few or no resources.

Near Death: Teachers, near exhaustion, walk around school with glazed-over eyes mumbling, “Why did I do this to myself? I will never do this again! (Lewin & Shoemaker, 1998, p. 104)”

It is the responsibility of the teacher to minimize such project pitfalls and to maximize the learning experience for the students. This must be done in the design phase of the project assessment. Criteria for quality design will be elucidated in Chapter Nine of this text.


The final category of Performance-Based Assessments on our graphic brings us back to where this chapter started, with performances. The performances listed here include musical recitals, dances, dramatic readings, enactments, etc.– all of which we have no trouble recognizing as performances. However, in order to make such performances work as performance-based assessments, they must conform to the definition of performance-based assessments, in that they must be judged “according to pre-established performance criteria.” Of course, like all quality assessments, they should also help forward the instruction of key curricular concepts.

One example of a performance not listed on the graphic is the writing and then the oral defense of a doctoral dissertation. At first, it seems to make little sense to include such an example in a text designed for teachers of primary, middle school, and secondary school students. However, a performance not unlike that of the doctoral candidate is rising in prominence among high school students. This performance is the Senior Project.

SERVE defines the Senior Project program as “a performance assessments and requirement (basics to honors) for 12th graders with these three components:

  • A research paper on a topic of the student’s choice
  • A project related to the paper
  • A presentation to a panel comprised of community members and school staff” (SERVE, 1999, p. 2).

The research paper serves to demonstrate the acquisition of new knowledge through the use of researching, writing, interviewing, or other complex skills. The second phase of the work, the project, is an extension of the research paper in which students work with a mentoring adult in a field related to the topic. Finally, students present their work to a panel of judges in a question and answer format. Through such activities, students “demonstrate complex knowledge and skills. These skills may include:

  • Gathering information through researching and reading,
  • Communicating information by writing, speaking, and using visual exhibits and verbal and nonverbal expression,
  • Using numbers, graphs, charts, drawings, and problem-solving techniques gained from math and science, and
  • Using current systems of technology” (Public Schools of North Carolina, 1999, p. 95).

As evidenced by the above listing of components and skills, the Senior Project program incorporates activities from all three categories of Performance-Based Assessments (constructed responses, products, and performances). Benefits garnered from such Senior Project assessment accrue to students, faculties, and communities. Students benefit in that they are given opportunities to present their best work, acquire new skills, gain self-confidence, and focus on career goals. Benefits to faculties include opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in interdisciplinary studies, chances to raise expectations and standards for students, and connect the curriculum to world-of-work applications. Community benefits from student work on Senior Projects include having more community members involved in school activities, publicity for community problems/challenges, and gaining new community members, well prepared for the world of work as students matriculate.

The Senior Project performance, however, like all performance-based assessments does not succeed unless carefully designed and planned. All such assessments must be based upon curriculum standards, must have clear expectations which are shared with students, and must be judged by prearranged quality criteria. The intent of this chapter has been to acquaint the novice assessor with the many examples of performance-based assessments and to aid the novice in differentiating one type of assessment from another. However, future chapters will delve into planning for the quality design of performance-based assessments. Conveying expectations and writing rubrics for these assessments will be covered in Chapter Seven, while other design considerations are found in Chapter Nine.


Burke, K. (1994). The mindful school: How to assess authentic learning. IRI/Skylight Training and Publishing, Inc: Palatine, Illinois.

Butler, S.M. (1997). “Using science portfolios in a tenth-grade chemistry classroom.” In Barton, J. & Collins, A. (1997). Portfolio assessment: Handbook for Educators. Menlo Park, California: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Clarkson, J. (1997). “Using math portfolios in first-, second-, and third-grade classrooms.” In Barton, J. & Collins, A. (1997). Portfolio assessment: Handbook for Educators. Menlo Park, California: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Florida Department of Education. (1991). “Course student performance standards, Chemistry I Honors.” Curriculum Framework. Tallahassee, FL: Department of Education.

Foundation for Advancements in Science & Education. (Producer). (1993). Good morning, Miss Toliver. [Film]. (Available from FASE Productions, 4801 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 215, Los Angeles, CA 90010, 800-404-3273)

Lewin, L. & Shoemaker, B.J. (1998). Great performances: Creating classroom-based assessment tasks. Arlington, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Long, D. (1997). “Using language arts portfolios in a fourth-and-fifth grade classroom” In Barton, J. & Collins, A. (1997). Portfolio assessment: Handbook for Educators. Menlo Park, California: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

McColskey, W. & O’Sullivan, R. (1995). How to assess student performance in science: Going beyond multiple-choice tests. Greensboro, NC: SERVE.

Public Schools of North Carolina. (1999). Classroom assessment: Linking instruction and assessment. Raleigh, NC: State Board of Education, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

SERVE. (1999). Senior project: Student work for the real world. [Brochure to accompany videotape] Greensboro, NC: SERVE.

Tobias, S. (1993). Overcoming math anxiety. New York: W.W. Norton.

Williams, A. (1997). “Using science portfolios in a sixth-grade classroom.” In Barton, J. & Collins, A. (1997). Portfolio assessment: Handbook for Educators. Menlo Park, California: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

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©2001 Dr. Susan Butler for Science Junction, NC State University. All rights reserved.
Last updated 10/09/01

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