Does Performance Based Assessment Produce Better Students?

Traditionally, student learning is assessed using standardized testing methods. Multiple-choice quizzes, true or false and identification exams are just some of these methods, which involve some form of question-and-answer format. Performance based assessments, on the other hand, are usually used just for creativity classes in Writing, Art and Drama. But performance based assessments are now also used in other subjects such as Science and Math, in which students perform oral presentations regarding concepts and computations. In line with this, does performance based assessment produce better students?

Traditional assessments focus on examining students' knowledge of principles and theories through requiring them to answer questions on paper. Meanwhile, performance based assessments test students' understanding of these concepts by requiring them to use these concepts in practical applications, like science experiments.

Performance based assessments get all students excited because they allow students to engage in activities like enacting a scene in a play and dissecting a frog. For a student to do successfully in these activities, though, he must know the principles behind them.

Performance assessments do not just require students to engage in fun activities. They also require students to answer questions pertinent to their activities. For example, in making a balloon rocket, they have to explain the factors affecting the balloon's forward movement either in oral or written form. Sometimes, they have to present their findings in class, which allows them to practice their public speaking skills while having their knowledge in the subject matter assessed. In this case, the answer to "Does performance based assessment produce better students?" is definitely in the affirmative.

Performance assessments often take the form of group activities. Some students just depend on their partners or group-mates to do their projects. But more often than not, students tend to help one another in their group activities. For example, a student who knows about Newton's law of interaction explains the concept to a group-mate or partner who doesn't and this group-mate or partner willingly shares his knowledge on what the other student doesn't know or understand. Hence, students learn from one another and benefit from each other's strengths. Performance based assessments produce better students in a way that encourages them to cooperate and have each other's back in doing their group activities.

There are also some cases where performance assessments are in the form of oral presentations. When a student is tasked to do an oral presentation, he has the responsibility to explain his topic to his classmates as clearly and as comprehensively as possible. Through an oral presentation, a student practices how to confidently speak in front of people and how to deliver explanations with clarity and coherence. Since questions often follow oral presentations, a student also gets to demonstrate how much he understands the connections among topics he has studied.

The more recognized form of performance assessments is that of a portfolio assessment. Used in subjects such as art and composition, the portfolio type of assessment tracks and reviews the progress of a student for the entire year he has taken a subject. This type of assessment relieves students of the pressure to summarize all that he has learned in one final exam or project. It also focuses on how a student's skill develops from his previous project and how far his skill has gone since he started. By focusing on the progress of a student, portfolio assessments allow students to concentrate on working on his weaknesses and avoiding mistakes he already did in the past. They also encourage students to believe they can always perform better the next time they are assessed.

A holistic education should be the goal of every school for each of its students. By giving students performance based assessments, students' skills in communication and analysis are honed. Through performance based assessments, teachers learn if their students can comprehend the lessons they were taught and if they can carry over their knowledge for use in real life situations. These assessments require students to act responsibly toward their studies and not simply memorize what they're taught. The larger the population of a class, though, the more difficult it is for these assessments to be implemented. Nevertheless, teachers should still use them, because traditional examinations alone are not enough to improve student performance.

Educational Literature on Performance-Based Assessment

  1. Alternatives to Standardized Educational Assessment- ERIC Document
  2. Assessment for American Indian and Alaska Native Learners- ERIC Document
  3. Can Performance-Based Assessments Improve Urban Schooling?- ERIC Document
  4. Connecting Performance Assessment to Instruction- ERIC Document
  5. Creating Meaningful Performance Assessments- ERIC Document
  6. Developing Instructional Leaders- ERIC Document
  7. Fairness in Performance Assessment- ERIC Document
  8. Guidelines for the Development and Management of Performance Assessments- ERIC Document
  9. Measuring Up: The Promises and Pitfalls of Performance Indicators in Higher Education- ERIC Document
  10. National and State Perspectives on Performance Assessment- ERIC Document
  11. New Directions in Teacher Evaluation- ERIC Document
  12. On Standardized Testing- ERIC Document
  13. Outcome-Based Education- ERIC Document
  14. Performance Assessment in Early Childhood Education- ERIC Document
  15. Performance Contracts for Administrators- ERIC Document
  16. Standards for Student Performance- ERIC Document
  17. The Case for Authentic Assessment- ERIC Document
  18. Using Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Assessments To Ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native Students Receive the Special Education Programs and Services They Need- ERIC Digest
  19. Using Performance Assessment in Outcomes-Based Accountability Systems- ERIC Document
  20. Using Simulations To Enhance Career Education- ERIC Document
  21. Vocational Education Performance Standards- ERIC Document