Alternative Assessments in the Classroom

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What is assessment?

I previously published a post focusing assessment in the classroom. Assessment is a necessary part of education. It provides educators and administrators with valuable data on student learning, appropriate curricula, and effective teaching strategies.

“Assessment” traditionally brings to mind tests, quizzes, and standardized benchmarks for students to pass. While these sorts of assessments are important and serve a purpose, there are other alternative methods of assessing student learning.

Alternative assessmentsimage

Alternative assessment, as described by the National Capital Language Resource Center (NCLRC) as such:

Alternative assessment uses activities that reveal what students can do with language, emphasizing their strengths instead of their weaknesses. Alternative assessment instruments are not only designed and structured differently from traditional tests, but are also graded or scored differently. Because alternative assessment is performance based, it helps instructors emphasize that the point of language learning is communication for meaningful purposes.

Alternative assessment gives students a say in how they are tested. Student-centered learning, where the students are actively participating in the lessons, allow for better comprehension and make learning more fun. These methods allow for different learning styles, since some students may struggle with traditional types of exams. Alternative assessment methods also give learners the opportunity to reflect upon their work, allow them to create goals for themselves, and help them develop critical thinking skills. These methods also allow learners to apply what they have learnt to solving real-world problems.

Isn’t that the whole point to education?

Alternative assessment tools revolve around using authentic, or original materials. Successful alternative assessment methods let students demonstrate what they can actually do with the content they have learned. These activities reenact the kinds of challenges, and allow for the kinds of solutions, that learners would meet outside the classroom. They are excellent for helping students develop and improve their communication skills in addition to their thinking and reasoning skills.

What are some types of alternative assessment?

Picture 038Alternative assessments focus on comprehension and performance. There are a variety of ways teachers can test their students. Effective assessments give students feedback on how well they understand the information and on what they need to improve, while helping teachers better design instruction. Assessment becomes even more relevant when students become involved in their own assessment. Students taking an active role in developing the scoring criteria, self-evaluation, and goal setting, more readily accept that the assessment is adequately measuring their learning.

Some examples of alternative assessments are:

  • Observation
  • Essays
  • Interviews
  • Performance tasks
  • Exhibitions and demonstrations
  • Portfolios
  • Journals
  • Teacher-created tests
  • Rubrics
  • Self- and peer-evaluation

These are just a few ideas. Teach HUB also has a list of 40 different ways teachers can alternatively assess their students. As the way we teach changes, so does the way we assess learning.

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Filed under Assessment, Creativity, Education, Elementary Education, ESL, K through 12, learning, Math, Science, Secondary Education, Social Studies, South Korea, Teaching, The United States, Thinking, Vocabulary Skills, Writing

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