Editor’s Note: Eagle Rock’s connection to the Performance Assessment work in New Mexico is working with the New Mexico Center for School Leadership in helping both ACE and Health Leadership high schools understand assessment practices and the processes and structures that allow for high-quality performance assessments to take place. Today’s post, authored by Larry Myatt of Educational Resources Consortium, dives deep into what’s happening with this issue in New Mexico.
Performance-based Assessments: Difficult to Measure — But Decisive
By Larry Myatt, Co-founder – Education Resources Consortium
There is no standardized test for music performance, but that doesn’t prevent listeners from knowing a quality performance when they hear one. Music performance is frequently used as an analogy among a group of New Mexico educators who are seeking new ways to assess academic learning.
Their work is part of a growing national movement called “performance-based assessment,” which is centered on the idea that student learning can be systematically measured on the basis of what students can do — not what they can demonstrate on a standardized written test.
The educators from the New Mexico Performance Assessment Network (PAN) say their work is important because so many reforms – teacher evaluations and school grades, for example – rely heavily on standardized tests to measure what students learn.
What it looks like
Principal Gabriella Duran Blakey offered an example of how performance-based assessment will look at Health Leadership High School in Albuquerque, which has a focus on health professions. She said students might do a unit of study on “food deserts,” or areas where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain.
Based on demographic and other research, students might decide an area needs a new grocery store, and then they would have to explain and justify where they would situate that store, how they would market it and then develop a business plan for its successful operation. They would simulate its construction plan, decide which products to stock and what to charge. Students would then defend their work before a panel of professionals, which might include store owners, nutritionists and doctors who work with diabetes patients. The panel would assess the students, deciding the extent to which each student demonstrated mastery of particular skill levels and curriculum standards.
Their aim is to build a better test. Tori Stephens-Shauger, principal of ACE Leadership High School and founder and facilitator of the PAN, says that the network is not starting from scratch. Its efforts are based in part on the work of 28 schools called the New York Performance Standards Consortium. These schools only take one (English Language Arts) of New York’s many Regents standardized tests for graduation and have been assessing students based on performance since 1997. Several dozen schools await membership in the consortium, which cites lower dropout rates and higher rates of college acceptance than the overall rates for New York City.
Stephens-Shauger adds Continue reading…