...the pressure our teachers and students are under to perform on written exams? We are extremely pleased that our state career and technical students are able to show mastery through a combined written and performance-based task formulation.
The performance-based assessment (PBA) allows our students to show individual success without being a "written-test zombie."
The PBA places a lion's share of the accountability on the student... where it belongs. Students can't "cheat" on this rubric-based task.
Just as dentists probe deeply into the mouths of their patients, the evaluators of the PBA delve deeply into the mental constructs of the testing students. Like a dentist's tool, the exit interview of the PBA allows evaluators to truly assess (using questioning to drill for student understanding) and effectively gauge whether the student has minimal, basic, proficient, or advanced knowledge of the concepts contained within the live performance task they are asked to complete...
This testing style also answers, in the minds of the students, that age-old question that Calvin so eloquently states above...Why do I have to learn?
We have to learn so that we can explain our labors to others ... so that we can be productive work partners (and to prove our worth) in the high-tech workplace ... and so that we can become advanced problem-solvers (and communicators) in order to be successful in any endeavor we happen to pursue.
The First Year Assessment:
The first year course is tested using a 100-item, on-line exam. Of the 100 items, 80 are live items, and fifteen are field-test items. Students must get 60% of the live items right to "pass" the exam. These items are drawn from the RCU test item pool in a way that reflects the time spent covering each unit. Units that have more class time devoted to them have more of the 80 live questions devoted to them.
A score of 50 to 69 indicates the student has basic understanding of course content. A score of 70 to 79 indicates the student is proficient in course content. A score of 80+ indicates the student has advanced knowledge of course content. A score below 50 indicates a minimal knowledge of course content, but, as indicated, a student must score 60+ (not 50+) in order to show mastery of course objectives and to "pass" the written assessment.
The Second Year Assessment:
The second year assessment is similar in some ways to the first but much different in other ways. The students are tested with a 100-item, written, on-line exam in which 80 items are live and 20 are field test items. Students need to still score 60%, but the test is split into three portions. To begin with, the first portion is taken from their first year exam. This is considered 30% of the second year exam grade. Next, the new 100-item exam is scored and considered as 30% of the new exam grade. Finally, students must complete their resumé and job application followed by a performance-based assessment task. The job application and resumé count as 10% and the performance task is weighted as 90% of this portion of the exam. The score from these items are considered as 40% of the second-year exam score. These percentages are combined and students must hit the same benchmark scores as outlined for polymers one. In summary, the percentages for tasks on this exam are:
This seems somewhat complicated, but it usually goes surprisingly well, and my second-year students benefit greatly from the performance task portion of the exam.