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Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
Social Studies Framework
Chapter 5: Assessment
In the effort to provide better and increased information about
accountability, curriculum monitoring, placement, and diagnosis in
education, educators are transforming assessments from traditional
paper and pencil tasks to more performance-oriented approaches.
Performance-based or authentic assessment tasks are those which
engage students in real-world tasks rather than multiple-choice
tests, and evaluate them according to criteria that are important for
actual performance in a field of work. (Darling-Hammond, 1994)
For districts, the broad questions relating to assessment include the
- Is assessment an integral part of learning?
- Is assessment holistic, analytic, and integrative?
- Does assessment include public demonstration?
- Are students involved in setting personal assessment goals and
selecting assessment activities?
- Does assessment provide formative as well as summative data?
- Does assessment involve the application of information to
solve real-world problems?
- Are a wide variety of assessment strategies employed?
- Are analytic assessment strategies employed?
- Are teachers supported in their assessment efforts?
(Source: The Eric
Review, Fall, 1994)
Comprehensive assessment programs contain all four of the major
types of assessment noted in the table below. This chapter focuses
primarily on alternative types of assessment rather than on tests and
TYPES OF ASSESSMENTS
that may turn into
National, state, district,
tests and quizzes
Source: Shalvey, 1994.
Several states are using extended response or open-ended questions
in statewide assessment programs. Examples of their questions are
included in the implementation kit. Such open-ended questions may be
useful in the transition between traditional paper-and-pencil tests
and performance assessments. Open-ended questions have several common
features which teachers can use as guides when generating their own
tests and quizzes.
The questions used in open ended assessments focus more on asking
why and how rather than what, when, and
where. Other characteristics of these questions are listed below.
- Open-ended questions tend to be broader, requiring integration
of knowledge and/or skills from more than one curricular goal,
objective, strand, or discipline.
- Open-ended questions tend to focus on higher-order thinking
skills rather than on recall and acquisition of facts. They tend
to require analysis, explanation, interpretation, evaluation, or
comparison and contrast.
- Open-ended questions require students to write out their
thoughts rather than choose the correct answer from among several
- Most open-ended questions require responses that truly are
open; i.e. several responses may be correct with the score
determined by the quality of the response rather than by giving
one "right" answer.
Source: North Carolina Department of Public
Assessments can range from the traditional paper and pencil tests,
to performance assessments, to portfolios. (See the list on page 7
of this chapter.) The advantages of alternative assessments,
those other than traditional paper and pencil tests, are numerous.
Advantages for Students
Advantages for Teachers
- think more deeply
- feel free to do their best thinking because their
ideas are valued
- ask deeper and more frequent questions of themselves,
their classmates, and their teachers
- improve their listening skills and gain an
appreciation for the role of listening in cooperative
- feel responsibility for their thoughts and ownership
of their methods
- observe that there are many right ways to complete a
- experience the value of verbalization as a means of
clarifying one's thinking
- form new insights into discipline concepts
- learn ways to identify the places where they need
- increase their self-confidence and self-esteem as a
result of genuine interest shown by a teacher or
- feel more tolerance and respect for other people's
- focus their energy on exploring and communicating
ideas about big ideas rather than on finding right
- develop strategies for conducting self-interviews
while working in other settings
- encourages higher order thinking so students are
thinking beyond basic knowledge levels
- gain access to student thinking
- enhance their ability to use nonthreatening questions
that elicit explanations and reveal misconceptions
- strengthen their listening skills
- show respect for their students by being
- use interview results as a source of questions to
pose on written assignments for the whole class
- encourage respect for diversity by modeling
appreciation of varied approaches
- pose questions that encourage students to construct
and share their own understandings
- feel reinforcement for letting go of "teaching as
Source: Stenmark, 1991.
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