28 mars 2012

"Performance-based Assessment" (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

The original term used by specialists in the psychometric literature for what is called variously "authentic assessment, "exhibitions," and "portfolio assessment." It is a form of assessment in which a student is graded for a unified production similar to one that he or she would be called upon to produce in the real world outside the classroom. 
   For instance, a pianist would be asked to perform a piece, a writer would be asked to produce a whole essay, a math student would be asked to solve a realistic math problem. 

   An advantage of performance-based assessment is that it requires the student to integrate the various sublearnings which make up a skill. This encourages both teachers and their students to stress such integration in the course of teaching and learning. 
   Another advantage is said to be heightened student motivation, since such realistic modes of assessment directly exemplify the practical uses to which learnings are to be put. 

   Criticisms of performance based assessment by psychometricians include the observation that "performances" in a school context do not in fact authentically duplicate real-world performance, and do not reliably predict it. 
   The most important criticism is that when used for high-stakes testing, performance tests are much less fair and reliable than well constructed objective tests. 

   The best uses of performance tests are as lower-stakes "formative" tests, which help serve the goals of teaching and learning within the context of a single course of study. (See also "Authentic assessment," "Competition," "Exhibitions," and "Portfolio assessment.")

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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