School districts across the nation anticipated that Common Core State Standards national tests would resemble a performance assessment. As a result, K-12 districts pushed for all their staff to learn how to design, implement and administer performance assessments in the classroom. K-12 teachers -across the country- spent many hours learning the ins and outs of this new assessment system.
And, just like all things in educations, the demand for this type of assessment simply stopped.
Performance assessments are time-consuming . It is not a practical evaluation for districts that are bounded to specific testing restrictions. This type of evaluation takes longer to design, to implement and to grade. The data results from these assessments are not instantaneously. It takes about two weeks to collect and analyze the results. Data -driven K-12 districts founded this problematic.
And, it forced them to return to a multiple-choice test format, which measures simple skills and concepts. Multiple choice assessments are not only expedient; it is cost-effective. Most of these tests are pre-packaged bulk evaluations, which can be automatically corrected by a Scantron machine. No longer do districts have to allocate funds or time for teacher training or a school coach. It does make the process easier for schools.
But faster, cheaper and easier is not always a better way for our students.
Multiple choice assessments is somewhat of a flawed evaluation. These assessments do not fully evaluate a student’s academic abilities, and can give false test score of what a child knows and can do. Quick assessments are brief appraisal of learning bits. Performance assessments are a more resource intensive evaluation; it is an accurate indicator of how well students can apply what they have learned. These assessments also quantify how a student is using prior knowledge to reinforce new grade-level content. The data it reveals is valuable in understanding how a student retains and transfers content being taught.
It is unfortunate that performance assessments are no longer consistently used in K-12. Hopefully one day, school districts will give performance assessments another try and recognize the its value measuring learning.
Beyond Basic Skills: The Role of Performance Assessment in Achieving 21st Century Standards of Learning