What is Authentic Assessment?

Table of Content

Grant Wiggins, who is a Psychometrician campaigned and promoted the cause of authentic assessment, and introduced its concept. He explained that students are engaged in applying skills and knowledge to solve “real world” problems, giving the task a sense of authenticity. From a holistic standpoint, the acquisition of knowledge is being measured. Mastery engages more than being able to remember answers as might be the case with a traditional testing format. Students must be able to display a thorough understanding of the problem, therefore there’s an indication of mastery of a concept or idea as they apply and use their knowledge.

According to Grant Wiggins in his book, Assessing Student Performance, (1993) the word assess comes from the Latin, “to sit with” and that person who sits with you is there to assign a value.  Therefore, the assigning of value comes from the conversation that happens over the item being assessed.  He goes on to define assessor as someone who advises on technical points.

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Wiggins believed that “tests” specifically the standardized variety, as impassive, out of perspective and separate measurements of how a student does on that test that day, rather then a device to measure real progress or achievement of students.

For an example, before becoming a licensed doctor one has to undergo several years of training. What other measurements universities or professors used to assess their future doctors? Beyond the standardized tests given to them, these students were doing internships and applying the knowledge they have in school to practical exams. They are required to undergo years of internship and successfully applies his knowledge in real life situation. You wouldn’t want to consult a doctor who are just intellectually good but have not practiced in hospitals. Their competencies were measured by practical situations and not by merely pencil and paper tests.

Authentic assessment tasks are set in an important situation that provides relations between real world experiences and school-based ideas. Hence, these assessments are related to students’ lives and their learning experiences, they are generally important to students. For the reason that they often require completing a task or creating a product, students are generally proud of the results. As such, students may spend more time implementing the task than they would have if they read something about the topic and took a written test on the material. Learning has a better chance of being retained in our brain if it is hands-on nature of the task or project.

 Characteristics of Authentic Assessment

The following are several characteristics of authentic assessment.

(1) Authentic assessments entail the presentation of worthwhile and/or meaningful tasks that are designed to be representative of performance in the field. In a given setting certain tasks are considered important in their own right and approximate something the person would actually be required to do if he was placed in that scenario or experience. Preferably, authentic assessments provide real rather than false learning experiences that will be beneficial for both the teacher and students for their opportunities to discover and display what students can do. Teachers sometimes give students a hypothetical scenario in which to complete the task because sometimes it is difficult to recognize that actual performances. For example, students were asked to demonstrate knowledge of dance choreography instead of writing it down in a paper the teacher might frame the assessment by telling students that they are dance critics for a local newspaper. As such, they will write a review of a dance performance, and this different approach is good for students, they can present a more in depth understanding of what dance choreography is.

(2) Authentic assessments put emphasis on “higher level” thinking and more complex learning. They are intended to conclude how well a student can utilize knowledge, rather than whether or not a student has memorized a set of facts and can identify them on a written test. The area of fitness provides an example of this. Students are not only required to engage in such physical activities but they must know the components of fitness as well as how to evaluate their present fitness status. Such information, they should be able to create an exercise program that will achieve fitness goals. This kind of activity requires synthesis and application of knowledge as students diagnose their current fitness levels and be able to identify a future plan of action. It requires much higher order thinking skills than asking the students to write a list of exercises.

(3) In authentic assessment, the criteria used are expressed in advance so that students know how they will be evaluated. Authentic assessment forces physical education teachers to clarify their objectives at the start of the semester, letting students know what is expected of them at the end of the course. Authentic assessments evaluate the essentials of performance against well-articulated performance standards called rubrics. Rubrics assist students to focus on key elements and then accentuate them as they work toward mastery. There are various types of rubrics depending on the reason of the assessment.

Since students know the criteria, they are expected to self-evaluate as they complete the task. Students know how and whey they will be evaluated and need not guess about what the teacher wants them to learn. Aside from self evaluation, peer assessment can also be done, where students give several feedback on each other, aide from the teacher. But self evaluation should be explained to students that honesty is important for self evaluation because this could night lead to discrepancies when the teacher does the final evaluation of performance.

(4) Assessment can be continuous/formative rather than collective. Because the task is so essential to instruction, it is frequently done since it is a significant factor of the curriculum. This concept is sometimes looked upon with disapproval, but if the task/assessment is meaningful and important, it is worth teaching. Instructional alignment tends to be high when teaching and assessment are intertwined and designed to reach a common goal (Cohen, 1987). The doctor described earlier practiced the required skills many times before being assessed by the teacher. Knowing the criteria (as found in the rubric), the future doctor knew when he/she had achieved mastery of the required skills.

(5) Authentic assessment changes the role of the teacher from adversary to ally (Veal, 1996). The root of the word assessment means “to sit with.” With an authentic assessment, because of the shaping nature of the assessment, students have many chances to prove that they have achieved mastery. The assessment also provides feedback for future performance and this gives the students a chance to practice and improve. Teachers know from this constant evaluation, additional skills and knowledge student gain before attaining mastery of the task. Further instructions can be in sync accordingly to help students reach the criteria.

For an instance, in tournaments it is loaded of setting for assessment. Each day there is a diverse point of emphasis, which would be articulated in the accompanying rubric. Different strategies, rules and game skills could be evaluated in a physical education “real world” setting as the tournament progressed. Since the students knew the criteria in beforehand, they are already familiar on what to concentrate on and practice. The teacher’s comments would be more proper and real than with just a visual assessment.

(6) Students are expected to present their work publicly. This helps students know that their work is vital and important. Responsibility is emphasized when students know their material will be publicly presented. Besides, other students can learn from watching the demonstration.

 (7) Assessment must involve the examination of the process as well as the products of learning. The development of creating the product for assessment is equal to or even more important than the product itself. For an example, the activity logs for a fitness portfolio are an important piece of information. The teacher needs to know the training regimen followed to determine if the student really understood the principles involved with the achievement of fitness.

Types of Assessment and Strategies

There are various types of assessment teachers used to evaluate their students. But this paper will focus on early childhood education. In a pre-school setup where kids are given various tasks at the same time, teachers used several forms for evaluation.

For an instance, story telling activity engages the students in a more in depth level, not only of what the story was about but what are the moral lessons they have learned from it. Teachers started to ask each student on how they can apply the moral lesson from their current situation. Thus, students were able to demonstrate their understanding of reading and listening through purposeful experience.

Accurately and properly assessing the development of young children’s literacy development is a big challenge. The teacher must select an appropriate type of assessment that will document what the child can do, as well as what the child knows. There are various types or performance assessments a teacher could use to evaluate the skills being established by the children: checklists, anecdotal notes, videotapes, and work samples are some of the ways to accurately document, in a realistic setting, the children’s behaviors and skills.

The major challenge for teachers of young children is selecting and deciding how to attain the needed information about their literacy development. The teacher should evaluate the activities that are intended for the day and decide which assessment strategy or strategies would be most applicable. To be able to identify the most appropriate assessment tool to use for certain situation or activity, teachers should determine what she needed to assess and consider the most efficient and effective means for recording that performance for record keeping.

Regardless of which types of assessment methods will be used, the teacher must create a program to review and reflect on the collected information. A successful authentic assessment approach, it depends on the teacher; he must take time to think about what children already know and are able to do, and be able to pinpoint the skills needed to develop further. Teachers should also determine children’s interests, abilities, and any areas of concern. This will achieve the insight needed to develop a clear understanding of the progress each child is making, and be able to prepare appropriate experiences that develop a positive attitude toward reading and writing, alongside with the necessary skills and understandings.


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What is Authentic Assessment?. (2016, Aug 07). Retrieved from


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