Using Authentic Assessments in Elementary Classrooms

Using Authentic Assessments in Elementary Classrooms

If you want to incorporate authentic assessments into your classroom, you have to create authentic tasks for students to complete. Authentic tasks are assignments designed to assess a student's ability to apply a standards-based skill to a real-world situation. For a task to be authentic, it has to have the four characteristics listed below.

Four Characteristics of Authentic Tasks

  1. Authentic tasks are performance based.
  2. Authentic tasks have a real-life application.
  3. Authentic tasks are constructive in nature (students are doing something).
  4. Authentic tasks are student structured (students are given a choice).

Tips on Using Authentic Tasks to Assess Students' Knowledge

  • Tip #1: Student interest surveys and multiple intelligence surveys should be used early in the school year to collect data and the learning preferences of students.
  • Tip #2: Choices should be presented to students in ways to perform the task. For example, if you ask students to demonstrate their understanding of a plant cell, students should be able to choose between creating a model, writing an essay, creating a play, etc.
  • Tip #3: Clear rubrics and expectations should be designed yet remain open. If you're asking students to demonstrate their understanding of a plant cell, the required knowledge students are asked to display (parts of a plant cell, description of the functions of the parts of a plant cell, etc.) should be made clear. The authenticity comes in the way students choose to express their understanding.
  • Tip #4: Create/choose an audience to bring authenticity to the task. Instead of having students just create a model, frame the task where they are making a model to be displayed in the school library for younger students to study. If students choose to create a play based on the plant cell, that play should be performed for an audience with a clear purpose. Authentic tasks are no longer authentic if students are not asked to apply their understanding in a real-world scenario.

Be sure to browse our Elementary section for a variety of tools, materials, and resources you can use to teach and assess students.

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