Effective Performance Assessments

In chapter 7 of Understanding by Design, six requirements were laid out for creating an effective performance assessment: They are realistically contextualized, require judgement and innovation, ask the student to “do” the subject, replicate key challenging situations in which adults are truly “tested” in the workplace, in civic life, and in personal life, assess the students’ ability to efficiently and effectively use a repertoire of knowledge and skill to negotiate a complex and multistage draft, allow appropriate opportunities to rehearse, practice, consult resources, and get feedback on and refine performances and products.

A performance assessment idea that I have for day four of my unit plan on figurative language is to put the students in groups of 4 to 5, and have them come up with popular songs that they listen to that utilize different forms of figurative language. Once they have pinpointed a specific song, they will work as a group to uncover what the underlying meaning of that figurative language is, and finally, how this shapes their perception of the song as a whole. This activity follows through on all six of the requirements listed above, for multiple reasons. For one, this “do” activity is culturally and socially based, and requires students to utilize aspects of their society in which they live in and apply this to what they are learning in school. This will teach students that the material is not only relevant, but it can be fun as well. Secondly, through this group dynamic, the students are forced to negotiate varying ideas and understand that there is no one-way of going about the activity, and thirdly, students are able to share this knowledge with others and perhaps reevaluate their own ideas through other groups’ sharing of theirs, which allows for deeper thinking as a whole.

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