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AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT CHALLENGES AND EMPOWERS STUDENTS

This entry looks at how the process developed and how it works.Teachers design successful authentic experiences when students employ a complex array of criticalthinking and problem-solving skills that involve independent research, analysis, and application of knowledge.Students engaged in applying knowledge in new and meaningful ways are expected to achieve enduringunderstanding, a characteristic of authentic assessment.Authentic assessment focuses on contextual learning in an environment that fosters inquiry and enduringunderstanding using evidence collected by the teacher in ongoing evaluations of student learning. The evidenceof authentic learning involves documenting performances and products developed during a unit or over a periodof time, which may include observations, dialogues, and students’ self-evaluations. To employ authenticassessment methods, teachers design open-ended, complex assignments.Ultimately, authentic assessment provides students with enduring understanding in a meaningful contextthat replicates the experiences of living in a complex, ever-changing society. In this way, as Wiggins and hiscolleague have suggested, authentic assessment prepares students to negotiate the challenges of everyday life, thecomplex world of careers and work, and the diverse needs of individuals and societies both now and in thefuture.AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT CHALLENGES AND EMPOWERS STUDENTSWhat is authentic assessment? Authentic assessment is a method for measuring student learning byproviding developmentally appropriate, student-centered, active learning strategies that help students developlifelong learning competencies such as effective decision making, communication, and cooperation. Authenticassessment challenges students with tasks that have real-life relevance and meaning while empowering them totake control of their own learning.Rather than simply recalling facts, students are required to create a “product” to show what they knowand can do. And the open-ended nature of authentic assessment affords students opportunities to express theirindividuality—something very important to young adolescents. Products can range from penning stories, songs,poems, or blogs to crafting scrapbooks, collages, or dioramas to creating machines, exhibits, short films, or eveninteractive webpages. Teachers can decide if the particular task is best suited for individuals or small groups.

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