This post was first published in EdWeek's Learning Deeply blog.
This week the Performance Assessment Resource Bank, a bank of free, high-quality performance assessment resources, launched nationwide. This bank is designed to solve a major challenge for teachers and leaders intent on creating opportunities for all students to engage in deeper learning--access to tools to support the use of performance assessment. Since performance assessments require students to construct an original response rather than simply recognize a correct answer, they can support students in demonstrating their learning in ways that are authentic to the discipline and address real world challenges.
Across the country, educators, schools, and networks have been developing and using performance assessment to engage students in deeper learning. However, this work has often been done in isolated classrooms and schools. The Performance Assessment Resource Bank is an online collection of high-quality performance tasks and resources that support the use of performance assessment that have been collected from educators and organizations across the United States. Resources include performance tasks aligned with the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, professional development tools, and examples of how schools, districts, and states have integrated performance assessment into their systems of assessment. Vetted by experts at Stanford, all resources meet high standards of quality. The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) and Understanding Language-Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (UL-SCALE) developed the bank in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
For teachers, using complex, extended performance tasks can help raise the level of their instruction and create opportunities for more authentic application of students' knowledge and skills. The bank includes tasks that require students at different grade levels to work on problems they care about--analyzing the rising cost of college, determining whether animals should be kept in zoos--and to engage with content in meaningful ways. In my research, I find that using performance tasks aligned with the Common Core standards can support teachers in adopting new and more ambitious instructional practices (learn more). For the experienced teachers in my study, performance tasks that required students to engage with complex text with high levels of independence seemed like "too much" for their students initially. However, working collaboratively with their colleagues to use and adapt these resources was essential for supporting their students in reaching new and higher standards for learning. Seeing their students meet these standards, in turn, raised teachers' expectations for what they and their students could accomplish.
For leaders in schools and districts, the resources in the bank can help support them in leading professional learning among teachers about how to develop, use, and score performance tasks and organizing schools and districts to integrate performance assessment. Integrating performance assessment in classrooms and schools in ways that support deeper levels of learning requires much more than simply access to performance tasks. For example, schools, districts, and networks, such as Envision Schools, the New York Performance Standards Consortium, and the Danville Independent School District, have engaged in sustained efforts to use performance assessment as part of a larger portfolio of student work used to demonstrate students' readiness for college and career. When performance assessment is integrated into teaching and learning more comprehensively, it changes the way educators design curriculum, the instructional methods they use, and the way they define expectations for student performance.
Elizabeth Leisy Stosich is a research and policy fellow at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE)