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What is a Performance Task? (Part 1)

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Performance Task PD with Jay McTighe — Blog

A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to perform to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. Performance tasks yield a tangible product and/or performance that serve as evidence of learning. Unlike a selected-response item (e.g., multiple-choice or matching) that asks students to select from given alternatives, a performance task presents a situation that calls for learners to apply their learning in context.

Performance tasks are routinely used in certain disciplines, such as visual and performing arts, physical education, and career-technology where performance is the natural focus of instruction. However, such tasks can (and should) be used in every subject area and at all grade levels.

Characteristics of Performance Tasks

While any performance by a learner might be considered a performance task (e.g., tying a shoe or drawing a picture), it is useful to distinguish between the application of specific and discrete skills (e.g., dribbling a basketball) from genuine performance in context (e.g., playing the game of basketball in which dribbling is one of many applied skills). Thus, when I use the term performance tasks, I am referring to more complex and authentic performances.

Here are seven general characteristics of performance tasks:

  • Performance tasks call for the application of knowledge and skills, not just recall or recognition.

In other words, the learner must actually use their learning to perform . These tasks typically yield a tangible product (e.g., graphic display, blog post) or performance (e.g., oral presentation, debate) that serve as evidence of their understanding and proficiency.

2. Performance tasks are open-ended and typically do not yield a single, correct answer.

Unlike selected- or brief constructed- response items that seek a “right” answer, performance tasks are open-ended. Thus, there can be different responses to the task that still meet success criteria. These tasks are also open in terms of process; i.e., there is typically not a single way of accomplishing the task.

3. Performance tasks establish novel and authentic contexts for performance.

These tasks present realistic conditions and constraints for students to navigate. For example, a mathematics task would present students with a never-before-seen problem that cannot be solved by simply “plugging in” numbers into a memorized algorithm. In an authentic task, students need to consider goals, audience, obstacles, and options to achieve a successful product or performance. Authentic tasks have a side benefit — they convey purpose and relevance to students, helping learners see a reason for putting forth effort in preparing for them.

4. Performance tasks provide evidence of understanding via transfer.

Understanding is revealed when students can transfer their learning to new and “messy” situations. Note that not all performances require transfer. For example, playing a musical instrument by following the notes or conducting a step-by-step science lab require minimal transfer. In contrast, rich performance tasks are open-ended and call “higher-order thinking” and the thoughtful application of knowledge and skills in context, rather than a scripted or formulaic performance.

5. Performance tasks are multi-faceted.

Unlike traditional test “items” that typically assess a single skill or fact, performance tasks are more complex. They involve multiple steps and thus can be used to assess several standards or outcomes.

6. Performance tasks can integrate two or more subjects as well as 21st century skills.

In the wider world beyond the school, most issues and problems do not present themselves neatly within subject area “silos.” While performance tasks can certainly be content-specific (e.g., mathematics, science, social studies), they also provide a vehicle for integrating two or more subjects and/or weaving in 21st century skills and Habits of Mind. One natural way of integrating subjects is to include a reading, research, and/or communication component (e.g., writing, graphics, oral or technology presentation) to tasks in content areas like social studies, science, health, business, health/physical education. Such tasks encourage students to see meaningful learning as integrated, rather than something that occurs in isolated subjects and segments.

7. Performances on open-ended tasks are evaluated with established criteria and rubrics.

Since these tasks do not yield a single answer, student products and performances should be judged against appropriate criteria aligned to the goals being assessed. Clearly defined and aligned criteria enable defensible, judgment-based evaluation. More detailed scoring rubrics, based on criteria, are used to profile varying levels of understanding and proficiency.

Let’s look at a few examples of performance tasks that reflect these characteristics:

Botanical Design (upper elementary)

Your landscape architectural firm is competing for a grant to redesign a public space in your community and to improve its appearance and utility. The goal of the grant is to create a community area where people can gather to enjoy themselves and the native plants of the region. The grant also aspires to educate people as to the types of trees, shrubs, and flowers that are native to the region. Your team will be responsible for selecting a public place in your area that you can improve for visitors and members of the community. You will have to research the area selected, create a scale drawing of the layout of the area you plan to redesign, propose a new design to include native plants of your region, and prepare educational materials that you will incorporate into the design.

Check out the full performance task from Defined STEM , here: Botanical Design Performance Task . Defined STEM is an online resource where you can find hundreds of K-12 standards-aligned project based performance tasks.

Evaluate the Claim (upper elementary/ middle school)

The Pooper Scooper Kitty Litter Company claims that their litter is 40% more absorbent than other brands. You are a Consumer Advocates researcher who has been asked to evaluate their claim. Develop a plan for conducting the investigation. Your plan should be specific enough so that the lab investigators could follow it to evaluate the claim.

Moving to South America (middle school)

Since they know that you have just completed a unit on South America, your aunt and uncle have asked you to help them decide where they should live when your aunt starts her new job as a consultant to a computer company operating throughout the region. They can choose to live anywhere in the continent.

Your task is to research potential home locations by examining relevant geographic, climatic, political, economic, historic, and cultural considerations. Then, write a letter to your aunt and uncle with your recommendation about a place for them to move. Be sure to explain your decision with reasons and evidence from your research.

Accident Scene Investigation (high school)

You are a law enforcement officer who has been hired by the District Attorney’s Office to set-up an accident scene investigation unit. Your first assignment is to work with a reporter from the local newspaper to develop a series of information pieces to inform the community about the role and benefits of applying forensic science to accident investigations.

Your team will share this information with the public through the various media resources owned and operated by the newspaper.

Check out the full performance task from Defined STEM here: Accident Scene Investigation Performance Task

In sum, performance tasks like these can be used to engage students in meaningful learning. Since rich performance tasks establish authentic contexts that reflect genuine applications of knowledge, students are often motivated and engaged by such “real world” challenges.

When used as assessments, performance tasks enable teachers to gauge student understanding and proficiency with complex processes (e.g., research, problem solving, and writing), not just measure discrete knowledge. They are well suited to integrating subject areas and linking content knowledge with the 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and technology use. Moreover, performance-based assessment can also elicit Habits of Mind, such as precision and perseverance.

For a collection of authentic performance tasks and associated rubrics, see Defined STEM : https://www.definedstem.com

For a complete professional development course on performance tasks for your school or district, see Performance Task PD with Jay McTighe : http://www.performancetask.com

For more information about the design and use of performance tasks, see Core Learning: Assessing What Matters Most by Jay McTighe: http://www.schoolimprovement.com

Article originally posted: URL: http://performancetask.com/what-is-a-performance-task | Article Title: What is a Performance Task? | Website Title:PerformanceTask.com | Publication date: 2015–04–12

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What Is Performance Assessment?

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Project-based learning is nothing new. More than 100 years ago, progressive educator William Heard Kilpatrick published “The Project Method,” a monograph that took the first stab at defining alternatives to direct instruction. Predictably, the document sparked a squabble over definitions and methods—between Kilpatrick and his friend and colleague John Dewey.

Not much has changed. Today, despite major advances in ways to measure learning, we still don’t have common definitions for project-based learning or performance assessment.

Sometimes, for example, performance assessment is framed as the opposite of the dreaded year-end, state-required multiple-choice tests used to report on schools’ progress. But in fact, many performance assessments are standardized and can—and do—produce valid and reliable results.

Experts also emphasize the “authentic” nature of performance assessment and project-based learning, although “authentic” doesn’t always mean lifelike: A good performance assessment can use simulations, as long as they are faithful to real-world situations. (An example: In science class, technology can simulate plant growth or land erosion, processes that take too long for a hands-on experiment.)

In the absence of agreed-upon definitions for this evolving field, Education Week reporters developed a glossary based on interviews with teachers, assessment experts, and policy analysts. They’ve organized the terms here generally from less specific to more specific. These terms aren’t mutually exclusive. (A performance assessment, for instance, may be one element of a competency-based education program.)

Proficiency-based or competency-based learning: These terms are interchangeable. They refer to the practice of allowing students to progress in their learning as they master a set of standards or competencies. Students can advance at different rates. Typically, there is an attempt to build students’ ownership and understanding of their learning goals and often a focus on “personalizing” students’ learning based on their needs and interests.

Project-based learning: Students learn through an extended project, which may have a number of checkpoints or assessments along the way. Key features are inquiry, exploration, the extended duration of the project, and iteration (requiring students to revise and reflect, for example). A subset of project-based learning is problem-based learning, which focuses on a specific challenge for which students must find a solution.

Standards-based grading: This refers to the practice of giving students nuanced and detailed descriptions of their performance against specific criteria or standards, not on a bell curve. It can stand alone or exist alongside traditional letter grading.

Performance assessment: This assessment measures how well students apply their knowledge, skills, and abilities to authentic problems. The key feature is that it requires the student to produce something, such as a report, experiment, or performance, which is scored against specific criteria.

Portfolio: This assessment consists of a body of student work collected over an extended period, from a few weeks to a year or more. This work can be produced in response to a test prompt or assignment but is often simply drawn from everyday classroom tasks. Frequently, portfolios also contain an element of student reflection.

Exhibition: A type of performance assessment that requires a public presentation, as in the sciences or performing arts. Other fields can also require an exhibition component. Students might be required, for instance, to justify their position in an oral presentation or debate.

Performance task: A piece of work students are asked to do to show how well they apply their knowledge, skills, or abilities—from writing an essay to diagnosing and fixing a broken circuit. A performance assessment typically consists of several performance tasks. Performance tasks also may be included in traditional multiple-choice tests.

With thanks to: Paul Leather, director for state and local partnerships at the Center for Innovation in Education; Mark Barnes, founder of Times 10 Publications; Peter Ross, principal at Education First; Scott Marion, executive director at the Center for Assessment; Sean P. “Jack” Buckley, president, Imbellus; Starr Sackstein, an educator and opinion blogger at edweek.org; and Steve Ferrara, senior adviser at Measured Progress.

Have we missed any terms that confuse you? Why not write and tell us?

A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2019 edition of Education Week as Performance Assessment: A Guide to the Vocabulary

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How to Design a Performance Task

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Follow a sequence of steps to develop an authentic performance task.

Performance tasks enable teachers to gather evidence not just about what a student knows, but also what he or she can do with that knowledge ( Darling-Hammond and Adamson 2010 ). Rather than asking students to recall facts, performance tasks measure whether a student can apply his or her knowledge to make sense of a new phenomenon or design a solution to a new problem. In this way, assessment becomes phenomenon-based and multidimensional as it assesses both scientific practices and content within a new context ( Holthuis et al. 2018 ).

As we move away from traditional testing, the purpose of assessment begins to shift. Instead of only measuring students’ performance, we also strive to create an opportunity for students to learn throughout the process. Not only are students learning more as they are being assessed, but the feedback you gain as a teacher is far richer than traditional assessment ( Wei, Schultz, and Pecheone 2012 ). This allows teachers to gather more information about what students do and do not know in order to better inform meaningful next steps in their teaching.

The design process

In the next sections, we describe a sequence of steps to design performance tasks for a science course using a sample middle school performance task, titled “Deer Population in Colorado.” Performance tasks are intended to assess individual student performance and can be administered at points that make sense for your instruction, either within or at the end of a unit. While we have defined a clear and meaningful sequence for this process, we want to emphasize that it is iterative in nature and often requires returning to earlier steps.

Step 1: Unpack the performance expectation

The first step of designing a performance task is to unpack the performance expectation (PE). “Unpacking” means digging into the Next Generation Science Standards ( NGSS ) documents to interpret what the PE really means; this ensures that your performance task assesses what you want it to assess.

Imagine you are planning a unit on interactions within ecosystems and you would like to write a performance task that assesses students on the life science PE MS-LS2-1. Take a look at the NGSS document pictured ( Figure 1 ). The first step is to read the PE at the top, which also includes an important clarification statement that lends more detail. This is where many of us will stop; however, it is critical you continue to unpack the three dimensions listed below the PE.

figure 1

Notice that we have circled the bullet points underneath the science and engineering practice (SEP), disciplinary core idea (DCI), and crosscutting concept (CCC). If you need more specific information for each dimension, you can click on the bulleted language, which will take you to the NGSS K–12 framework. By unpacking each dimension to this element level, we ensure that we are addressing these dimensions at the correct grade level for this PE. This ensures that we create a meaningful spiral for students throughout their K–12 education as they build complexity within these three dimensions over time. For example, with MS-LS2-1, we will not just ask students to identify cause-and-effect relationships, which would be at the 3–5 grade band level; we actually need to ask students to use cause-and-effect relationships to predict phenomena.

Keep in mind that this process also provides the flexibility to incorporate NGSS dimensions that are not specifically associated with a PE; we will show an example of this in step 3 of the process. By doing a thorough analysis and asking yourself these critical questions during the unpacking process, you will avoid major revisions later.

Step 2: Identify a rich and authentic phenomenon

The second step is to identify a rich and authentic phenomenon or an engineering problem that fits the performance expectation you are trying to assess. The NGSS community defines a phenomenon as an observable event that occurs in the universe; students then use their science knowledge to make sense of the selected phenomenon.

The phenomenon is the foundation of the task, and it is often where teachers experience the most frustration because it is challenging to find an actual phenomenon that truly fits the performance expectation. To begin the process of brainstorming a suitable phenomenon, we often start by looking at the elements of the DCI and connecting these concepts to anything we have seen or done in the past—for example, a cool video we saw, an interesting article we read, an intriguing podcast we listened to, or a great activity we have used in our classroom. These phenomena might be big and exciting—such as the Mount Tambora eruption that led to the “Year Without Summer”—or they could be smaller and more prevalent in everyday life—such as two pumpkins that grew to different sizes in the school garden.

Examining the DCI of MS-LS2-1, we noticed themes of competition, limited access to resources, and population size. This triggered a memory of a research study about a huge decline in the deer population in Colorado. Upon further investigation, we found that this phenomenon aligned with all three dimensions of the PE; it had multiple sources for data analysis to assess the SEP, it showcased each element of the DCI, and it provided opportunities to use cause-and-effect relationships. See Figure 2 for an example of how we engage students with this phenomenon at the beginning of the Deer Population in Colorado performance task, using key words such as “data” and “cause” to introduce students to the NGSS dimensions they will be performing in this task. You will see this phenomenon weaved throughout the rest of the performance task.

figure 2

In this process, we learned that a lot of interesting phenomena may seem initially applicable, but upon further investigation, they are not well-aligned with the PE and the corresponding dimensions we are trying to assess. For example, a common pitfall is selecting a phenomenon that initially seems to match the language of the PE but, in the end, does not apply to a majority of the elements of the DCI. The key to this step is to keep an open mind and remain willing to change the phenomenon if your first idea does not quite fit.

Step 3: Develop prompts

The next design step is to develop prompts—questions or instructions—that focus on the phenomenon and will elicit evidence of all three dimensions of the PE. In alignment with the SEP of MS-LS2-1, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, we first gathered data relevant to the phenomenon. The research study that inspired our choice in phenomena provided us with graphs that showed the change in the number of deer in Colorado, yearly rainfall, amounts of cheatgrass and sagebrush, population sizes of deer and elk, and causes of fawn deaths. While the data for this task came in a traditional format and was easily accessible from one source, data can come in many different forms (e.g., videos, images, data tables, graphs) and often this data collection process will require much more time and internet research. If data are not available in a form that is accessible to your group of students, you may also consider adapting existing data or using scientific concepts to manufacture your own mock data sets. In some cases, students can also generate data for themselves in the form of observations, measurements, and calculations as a result of carrying out an investigation or doing a simulation.

As we begin to write prompts, we must always remember that this type of assessment asks students to engage in a new and very complex thought process. In order to help students understand the phenomenon of the task and engage with difficult multidimensional questions, we also need to build in scaffolding questions that provide all students access to the assessment. If, for example, we ask students to analyze five different sources of data to use as evidence, we should provide them with a graphic organizer to help them organize their data analysis (see Figure 3 ). This is not only a tool to help each student organize and make sense of data as he or she independently completes this performance task, but it also offers another assessment opportunity for teachers to determine each student’s ability to read, analyze, and interpret data.

figure 3

In line with this goal, we also want to make sure that our prompts are aligned with the NGSS vision of assessing the integration of relevant practices, knowledge, and concepts. For example, the above prompt was multidimensional because it asked students to show evidence of the SEP, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, and the DCI, LS2.A Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems. As another example, take a look at the final prompt of this performance task ( Figure 4 ).

figure 4

This prompt asks students to use their data analysis and their cause-and-effect relationships to make a claim about the phenomenon—the cause of the change in the deer population in Colorado. Notice we are not only assessing the relevant DCI LS2.A and CC of Cause and Effect for MS-LS2-1, but we are also choosing to assess an additional SEP element of Constructing Explanations: “Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future” ( Appendix F 2013 ).

To decide which SEP to assess, we needed to hone in on the distinction between Constructing Explanations and Engaging in Argument From Evidence—two SEPs that are so similar, they are often used interchangeably. For this particular prompt, students are required to construct a causal explanation of a phenomenon—which the NGSS defines as Constructing Explanations. This prompt focuses on assessing how students can use the provided sources of evidence as well as their understanding of appropriate scientific concepts in order to support one primary explanation for the number of deer in Colorado—lack of food.

This final prompt not only showcases this emphasis on the NGSS and multidimensionality, but it also reinforces that when we write performance tasks, it is essential that our prompts keep returning to the phenomenon—in this case, the change in the number of deer in Colorado. If this connection is not maintained, it is no longer a performance task, but rather a series of content-focused questions.

Step 4: Create scoring guides

Upon drafting a performance task, the next step is to create a scoring guide that includes rubrics that clearly assess the three dimensions of the PE. We will summarize the key components here.

When writing rubrics, we first need to identify the dimensions addressed in the prompt. Take the example of the final prompt of the Deer Population in Colorado task ( Figure 4 ). In this prompt, students are asked to show evidence of the SEP of Constructing Explanations, the DCI of Resource Availability and Populations, and the CC of Cause and Effect. Using the NGSS language of each of these dimensions, we write a specific statement, known as the rubric construct, that helps clarify what we are trying to assess in that prompt (see Figure 5 ).

figure 5

Once we have an idea of what we are looking for, we can look at student work to identify a range of exemplars and use these to write descriptions for each level of performance. By including a student sample for each level of performance (see the last row of the rubric in Figure 5 ), we also provide teachers a range of authentic examples to know what student performance looks like for that prompt. Using this approach ensures that we create what is known as a multidimensional rubric, meaning it assesses the integration of multiple NGSS dimensions, rather than assessing only content. Keep in mind that writing rubrics is a very iterative process. At each step, you will want to stop and reflect on the alignment, and you will often return to previous steps to make adjustments.

Step 5: Pilot, score, and revise

Step 5 is often skipped due to time constraints, but it is the most essential. Piloting the task with students at the appropriate grade level and scoring student responses will help you identify prompts and rubrics that need to be revised.

In the case of the Deer Population in Colorado performance task, we learned that if we want students to show evidence of knowledge and practices, we must ask for it explicitly in the prompt. As we scored student samples for the final prompt, we noticed that students were able to demonstrate their ability to analyze data, but rarely included numerical data in their responses. To remedy this, we returned to the task itself and revised the prompts to specifically ask students to cite numerical data. We must remember that this kind of assessment is new for many students, so we need our expectations to be as clear and explicit as possible to give every student the best opportunity for success.

The most important step

While understanding the steps of the design process is essential, you will also find that support and collaboration are integral parts of the process. Remember that like any new process, designing performance tasks is going to be challenging. As you prepare to make the shift to NGSS -designed performance tasks, we highly recommend you put together a team of forward-thinking teachers like yourself, and seek out professional development to guide you through this new process.

For more information on the support SCALE Science provides around performance task design, please visit our website at scienceeducation.stanford.edu or contact us at [email protected] .

Darling-Hammond L. and Adamson F. 2010. Beyond basic skills: The role of performance assessment in achieving 21st century standards of learning. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.

Holthuis N., Deutscher R., Schultz S.E., and Jamshidi A. 2018. The new NGSS classroom: A curriculum framework for project-based science learning. American Educator 42 (2): 23–27.

NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. .

Wei R.C., Schultz S.E., and Pecheone R. 2012. Performance assessments for learning: The next generation of state assessments. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Performance Tasks

A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to  perform  to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. Performance tasks yield a tangible product and/or performance that serve as evidence of learning. Unlike a selected-response item (e.g., multiple-choice or matching) that asks students to select from given alternatives, a performance task presents a situation that calls for learners to apply their learning in context.

For more information of the design and use of performance tasks and performance task assessment, we’ve published a seven part series at  https://blog.performancetask.com/  , authored by Jay McTighe.

Defined STEM Performance Task Project Outline

Set the stage.

  • Introduction
  • Career Video & Guiding Questions

Explore the Background ( GRASP)

  • Goal – Each performance task begins with a Goal. The goal provides the student with the outcome of the learning experience and the contextual purpose of the experience and product creation.
  • Role – The Role is meant to provide the student with the position or individual persona that they will become to accomplish the goal of the performance task. The majority of roles found within the tasks provide opportunities for students to complete real-world applications of standards-based content. The role may be for one student or in many instances can serve as a small group experience. Students may work together or assume a part of the role based upongroup dynamics. These roles will require student(s) to develop creative and innovative products demonstrating their understanding of the content through the application of the content and a variety of skills across disciplines.
  • Audience  – The performance tasks contain an Audience component. The audience is the individual(s) who are interested in the findings and products that have been created. These people will make a decision based upon the products and presentations created by the individual(s) assuming the role within the task. Click here for an article on the importance of audience within a performance task.
  • Situation  – The Situation provides the participants with a contextual background for the task. Students will learn about the real-world application for the task. Additionally, this section builds connections with other sections of Defined STEM. This is the place that may invite students to consider various video resources, simulations, language tasks, and associated websites when appropriate. This section of the performance task will help the students connect the authentic experience with content and concepts critical to understanding.
  • having a student complete all products within a task;
  • having students complete a number of products based upon content application and/or student interest;
  • having a student complete certain products based upon the educator’s decision to maximize content, concept, and skill application;
  • having student work as part of a cooperative group to complete a product or the products; and/or
  • having students complete products based upon the strength of their multiple intelligences.

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written performance task

What is a Performance Task?

By Jay McTighe,

A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to perform to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. Performance tasks yield a tangible product and/or performance that serve as evidence of learning. Unlike a selected-response item (e.g., multiple-choice or matching) that asks students to select from given alternatives, a performance task presents a situation that calls for learners to apply their learning in context.

Performance tasks are routinely used in certain disciplines, such as visual and performing arts, physical education, and career-technology where performance is the natural focus of instruction. However, such tasks can (and should) be used in every subject area and at all grade levels.

 Performance tasks can be used to engage students in meaningful learning. Since rich performance tasks establish authentic contexts that reflect genuine applications of knowledge, students are often motivated and engaged by such “real world” challenges.

When used as assessments, performance tasks enable teachers to gauge student understanding and proficiency with complex processes (e.g., research, problem-solving, and writing), not just measure discrete knowledge. They are well suited to integrating subject areas and linking content knowledge with the 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and technology use.   New research shows that such performance tasks lead to deeper understanding and can improve student achievement up +39%.

To learn how educators can create and implement effective performance tasks that drive student achievement, visit www.PerformanceTask.com .

written performance task

  Jay McTighe is a nationally recognized educator and author of the award-winning and best-selling Understanding by Design series with Grant Wiggins.

Editors Note: This is an excerpt from the article " What is a Performance Task ( Part  1)" published on the PerformanceTask.com blog. 

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Performance-based learning is when students participate in performing tasks or activities that are meaningful and engaging. The purpose of this kind of learning is to help students acquire and apply knowledge, practice skills, and develop independent and collaborative work habits. The culminating activity or product for performance-based learning is one that lets a student demonstrate evidence of understanding through a transfer of skills.

A  performance-based assessment is open-ended and without a single, correct answer, and it should demonstrate  authentic learning , such as the creation of a newspaper or class debate. The benefit of performance-based assessments is that students who are more actively involved in the learning process absorb and understand the material at a much deeper level. Other characteristics of performance-based assessments are that they are complex and time-bound.

Also, there are learning standards in each discipline that set academic expectations and define what is proficient in meeting that standard. Performance-based activities can integrate two or more subjects and should also meet  21st Century expectations whenever possible:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication and Collaboration

There are also  Information Literacy  standards and  Media Literacy  standards that require performance-based learning.

Clear Expectations

Performance-based activities can be challenging for students to complete. They need to understand from the beginning exactly what is being asked of them and how they will be assessed.

Examples and models may help, but it is more important to provide detailed criteria that will be used to assess the performance-based assessment. All criteria should be addressed in a scoring rubric.

Observations are an important component and can be used to provide students with feedback to improve performance. Teachers and students can both use observations. There may be peer to peer student feedback. There could be a checklist or a tally to record student achievement.

The goal of performance-based learning should be to enhance what the students have learned, not just have them recall facts. The following six types of activities provide good starting points for assessments in performance-based learning. 

Presentations

One easy way to have students complete a performance-based activity is to have them do a presentation or report of some kind. This activity could be done by students, which takes time, or in collaborative groups.

The basis for the presentation may be one of the following:

  • Providing information
  • Teaching a skill
  • Reporting progress
  • Persuading others

Students may choose to add in visual aids or a PowerPoint presentation or  Google Slides to help illustrate elements in their speech. Presentations work well across the curriculum as long as there is a clear set of expectations for students to work with from the beginning.

Student portfolios can include items that students have created and collected over a period. Art portfolios are for students who want to apply to art programs in college.

Another example is when students create a portfolio of their written work that shows how they have progressed from the beginning to the end of class. The writing in a portfolio can be from any discipline or a combination of disciplines.

Some teachers have students select those items they feel represents their best work to be included in a portfolio. The benefit of an activity like this is that it is something that grows over time and is therefore not just completed and forgotten. A portfolio can provide students with a lasting selection of artifacts that they can use later in their academic career. 

Reflections may be included in student portfolios in which students may make a note of their growth based on the materials in the portfolio.

Performances

Dramatic performances  are one kind of collaborative activities that can be used as a performance-based assessment. Students can create, perform, and/or provide a critical response. Examples include dance, recital, dramatic enactment. There may be prose or poetry interpretation.

This form of performance-based assessment can take time, so there must be a clear pacing guide.

Students must be provided time to address the demands of the activity; resources must be readily available and meet all safety standards. Students should have opportunities to draft stage work and practice. 

Developing the criteria and the rubric and sharing these with students before evaluating a dramatic performance is critical.

Projects are commonly used by teachers as performance-based activities. They can include everything from research papers to artistic representations of information learned. Projects may require students to apply their knowledge and skills while completing the assigned task. They can be aligned with the higher levels of creativity, analysis, and synthesis.

Students might be asked to complete reports, diagrams, and maps. Teachers can also choose to have students work individually or in groups. 

Journals may be part of a performance-based assessment. Journals can be used to record student reflections. Teachers may require students to complete journal entries. Some teachers may use journals as a way to record participation.

Exhibits and Fairs

Teachers can expand the idea of performance-based activities by creating exhibits or fairs for students to display their work. Examples include things like history fairs to art exhibitions. Students work on a product or item that will be exhibited publicly. 

Exhibitions show in-depth learning and may include feedback from viewers.

In some cases, students might be required to explain or defend their work to those attending the exhibition.

Some fairs like science fairs could include the possibility of prizes and awards. 

A debate in the classroom is one form of performance-based learning that teaches students about varied viewpoints and opinions. Skills associated with debate include research, media and argument literacy, reading comprehension, evidence evaluation, public speaking, and civic skills. 

There are many different formats for debate. One is the fishbowl debate in which a handful of students form a half circle facing the other students and debate a topic. The rest of the classmates may pose questions to the panel.

Another form is a mock trial where teams representing the prosecution and defense take on the roles of attorneys and witnesses. A judge, or judging panel, oversees the courtroom presentation.

Middle school and high schools can use debates in the classroom, with increased levels of sophistication by grade level.

  • Methods for Presenting Subject Matter
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3. Writing Performance Tasks (WPTs) – Opinion/Argument Writing

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Performance Assessment Tasks

These tasks are grade-level formative performance assessment tasks with accompanying scoring rubrics and discussion of student work samples. They are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. You may download and use these tasks for professional development purposes without modifying the tasks.

The tasks for 3rd Grade through High School were developed by the Mathematics Assessment Resource Service (MARS) of the Shell Centre for Mathematical Education, University of Nottingham, England. The tasks for 2nd Grade were developed by the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative’s Mathematics Assessment Collaborative (MAC).

View 2nd-grade tasks:

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View High School Algebra I tasks:

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View High School Algebra II tasks:

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Sample A CSP Performance Task

written performance task

By David Burnham

Component A: Program Code

Component b: video.

Example End-of-Course Exam Written Responses

The Create Performance Task section of the end-of-course exam consists of four prompts that require students to write responses that demonstrate understanding of their personal Create performance task. The following are sample prompts for each of the four categories – Program Design, Function, and Purpose , Algorithm Development , Errors and Testing , and Data and Procedural Abstraction . Students will have access to their student-authored Personalized Project Reference, as long as it was submitted as final via the AP Digital Portfolio when responding to these prompts.  

Prompt 1: Program Design, Function, and Purpose

Identify an expected user of your program. Describe one way your program’s design meets the needs of this user. 

Sample Response:

The expected user of our program is a student who wants to practice multiplication or division problems. The program aims to assist students in enhancing their arithmetic skills in a fun and interactive way. One way our program's design meets the needs of this user is by providing a customized learning experience based on the user's choice between multiplication and division. Additionally, the program keeps track of the user's performance by calculating the score as the number of correct answers out of the total number of problems attempted.

Prompt 2: Algorithm Development

Consider the first iteration statement included in the Procedure section of your Personalized Project Reference. Identify the number of times the body of your iteration statement will execute. Describe a condition or error that would cause your iteration statement to not terminate and cause an infinite loop. If no such condition or error exists, explain how the loop could be modified to cause an infinite loop.

The iteration statement is a for-loop that iterates through the range of numProblems. The number of times the body of the iteration statement will execute is equal to the value stored in the variable numProblems. In this program the for loop will execute 5 times, as there are 5 elements in the firstNumber and secondNumber lists.

To modify the loop intentionally to cause an infinite loop, we could alter the loop's condition to always evaluate as true. For instance, changing the for-loop's condition to for (var i = 0; true; i++) would result in an infinite loop. With this modification, the loop will continuously execute as the value of i increments indefinitely without ever reaching a termination condition.

Prompt 3: Errors and Testing

Consider the procedure included in part (i) of the Procedure section of your Personalized Project Reference. Describe a change to your procedure that will result in a run-time error. Explain why this change will result in a run-time error

Sample Response :

One change to the procedure that could result in a run-time error is modifying the division operation to divide by zero. In the provided code, if the type variable is not equal to "M", the program performs the division operation: correct = firstNumber[i] / secondNumber[i]

If secondNumber[i] is 0, this operation will result in a Zero Division Error. Dividing any number by zero is mathematically undefined, and attempting to perform such an operation in Python (or most programming languages) will cause a run-time error.

Prompt 4: Data and Procedural Abstraction

Suppose you are provided with a procedure called isEqual (value1, value2) . The procedure returns true if the two parameters value1 and value2 are equal in value and returns false otherwise. Using the list you identified in the List section of your Personalized Project Reference, explain in detailed steps an algorithm that uses isEqual to count the number of times a certain value appears in your list. Your explanation must be detailed enough for someone else to write the program code.

To count the number of times a specific value appears in a list using the isEqual procedure, you can initialize a variable called count and set it to 0. Then, iterate through the list using a loop and for each element, use the isEqual procedure to check if it matches the target value. If the isEqual procedure returns true, increment the count variable by 1. After iterating through the entire list, the count variable will contain the total number of occurrences of the target value in the list.

Scoring Commentary

Score : 6 out of 6

Row 1: Course Project Video (1 point)

The response earned the point for this row, meeting the following criteria:

• The video demonstrates the running of the program including input, program functionality, and output.

  • Input : The inputs demonstrated are asking users to select a problem type and then providing a guess for the problems.
  • Program Functionality : The program's purpose is to create a math quiz and the video demonstrates creating both a multiplication and division quiz.
  • Output : The three outputs demonstrated are outputting the problem, outputting the results from each guess, and outputting the final score at the end.

Row 2: Program Requirements (1 point)

The program code includes:

• A list : The response includes the two lists firstNumber and secondNumber that are relevant and used in the program.

• A procedure : The response includes a defined procedure called calculate() with a parameter called type.

• A call to the procedure : The response includes a call to the procedure, calculate() with a passed argument.

• Selection : The selected algorithm includes selection (two if statements)

• Iteration : The selected algorithm includes iteration (for loop for the problems)

Row 3: Written Response 1: Program Function and Purpose (1 point)

The written response:

• identified an expected user of the program:

• describes one way the program's design meets the needs of the identified user.

Row 4: Written Response 2(a): Algorithm Development (1 point)

The response earned the point for this row, meeting the following criteria: 

  • identified the number of times the body of the iteration statement will execute
  • describes a condition or error that would cause an infinite loop.

Row 5: Written Response 2(b): Algorithm Development (1 point)

  • describes a change to the procedure that will result in a run-time error
  • explains why the change will result in a run-time error

Row 6: Written Response 2(c): Data and Procedural Abstraction (1 point)

  • explains in detail steps in an algorithm that uses isEqual to count the number of elements in the list that are equal to a certain value.

Related Tutorials

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Sample B CSP Performance Task

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IMAGES

  1. Sample Computation of Written Works and Performance Tasks by Subject

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  2. What Is A Performance Task

    written performance task

  3. Performance Task Template

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  4. RAWS Written Performance Task No. 2 Template

    written performance task

  5. Sample Computation of Written Works and Performance Tasks by Subject

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  6. Sample Performance Task and Rubric

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VIDEO

  1. PTE writing task 1 ….Summarise written text…#pte #english

  2. Glordy

  3. Performance task 3 & Written Work 3

  4. Written Response Introduction: Create Task

  5. Copyright Mix-tape

  6. Conceptual framework written task in DAIF PA2 task 3

COMMENTS

  1. What is a Performance Task? (Part 1)

    A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to perform to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. ... (e.g., writing, graphics, oral or technology presentation) to tasks in content areas like social studies, science, health, business, health/physical education. Such tasks encourage students ...

  2. Smarter Balanced Scoring Guide

    presented with relevant source material and a writing task with a clearly stated writing topic, audience, purpose, and form, along with the scoring criteria. On the ELA Writing assessment, each student will respond to one performance task. Source Materials: Each Performance Task is accompanied by grade-appropriate "source material" (i.e. 2 ...

  3. PDF AN INTRO TO Performance Tasks

    A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to perform to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. Performance tasks yield a tangible product and/or performance that serve as evidence of learning. Unlike a selected-response item (e.g., multiple-choice or matching) that asks students to select ...

  4. What Is Performance Assessment?

    Performance task: A piece of work students are asked to do to show how well they apply their knowledge, skills, or abilities—from writing an essay to diagnosing and fixing a broken circuit. A ...

  5. AP Computer Science Principles Exam

    The AP Computer Science Principles Exam assesses student understanding of the computational thinking practices and learning objectives outlined in the course framework. The AP Exam consists of the Create performance task and an end-of-course exam. For more information, download the AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description (CED).

  6. How to Design a Performance Task

    Step 4: Create scoring guides. Upon drafting a performance task, the next step is to create a scoring guide that includes rubrics that clearly assess the three dimensions of the PE. We will summarize the key components here. When writing rubrics, we first need to identify the dimensions addressed in the prompt.

  7. Performance Tasks

    A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to perform to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. Performance tasks yield a tangible product and/or performance that serve as evidence of learning. Unlike a selected-response item (e.g., multiple-choice or matching) that asks students to select ...

  8. Sample Performance Tasks

    Explore sample performance tasks including math tasks that build problem-solving skills, science tasks that instill the skills of inquiry, and writing tasks that build communication skills. How Exemplars Delivers. Learning isn't linear. It's not about pouring knowledge into empty minds or rote memorization. It's social.

  9. What is a performance task?

    The AP Computer Science Principles Create performance task is part of the AP Exam. Students will be provided at least 9 hours in class to complete the performance task. The Create performance task focuses on the creation of a computer program and students will develop a Personalized Project Reference that contains their computer code. On the end-of-course exam, students will respond to two ...

  10. What is a Performance Task?

    A performance task is any learning activity or assessment that asks students to perform to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and proficiency. Performance tasks yield a tangible product and/or performance that serve as evidence of learning. Unlike a selected-response item (e.g., multiple-choice or matching) that asks students to select ...

  11. 6 Types of Performance-Based Activities

    Dramatic performances are one kind of collaborative activities that can be used as a performance-based assessment. Students can create, perform, and/or provide a critical response. Examples include dance, recital, dramatic enactment. There may be prose or poetry interpretation. This form of performance-based assessment can take time, so there ...

  12. 3. Writing Performance Tasks (WPTs)

    Writing Performance Tasks (WPTs) - Opinion/Argument Writing. The writing performance tasks included here are samples we developed for some of our school districts. They include the teacher directions and the student prompt and directions. (Note: Links to videos may have changed, find a new one!)

  13. Exemplars: Standards-Based Performance Tasks

    Exemplars offers rich performance tasks for assessment & instruction in math, science & writing. Rubrics & student anchor papers are included. Free samples. Tools for virtual online learning and teaching remotely.

  14. 2021 AP CSP Create Performance Task Pilot Student Samples

    2021 AP Computer Science Principles Create Performance Task Pilot Student Samples. Download sample student responses, scoring guidelines, and scoring commentaries. Note that these samples are from a pilot, not from an actual exam administration. Create - Sample Responses. Scoring Guidelines. Commentary. Sample A: Video. Sample A: Written ...

  15. Performance Assessment Tasks

    The tasks for 2nd Grade were developed by the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative's Mathematics Assessment Collaborative (MAC). These tasks are grade-level formative performance assessment tasks with accompanying scoring rubrics and discussion of student work samples. They are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

  16. How can I get samples of the Create performance task?

    Samples of the performance tasks with student responses and commentary are available on the AP CSP Exam page . The written response prompts for the 2024 exam and beyond will be different from what is represented in these samples.

  17. Guide to Written Performance Assessments

    STEP 1: Determine Written Performance Assessment Type and Content: Written Performance Assessments are an individual, written performance assessment. It assesses written communication and knowledge and thinking. Embedded in a project or PrBL unit, as a benchmark or an individual final product. ... STEP 2 : Create a Task Prompt: Next, create a ...

  18. PDF Guide to Writing Effective Performance Objectives, Self Accomplishments

    Appropriate: Instructions/guidance should be submitted to the appropriate signature authority by the end of the third quarter. Relevant - The performance objective should have a direct and obvious link to your job, the manager's objectives, the work unit's goals, and to important organizational goals.

  19. PDF Smarter Balanced Released Sample Performance Tasks

    performance task. The interaction increases students' basic understanding of the topic addressed in the constructed-response questions and the performance task, helps them access both assessment stimuli, and prepares students for the kind of thinking and writing they will be asked to demonstrate in the performance task.

  20. Written Works, Performance Tasks: Here's How Students Will Be Graded

    These tasks may be designed to include the student's learning portfolio, which documents all the evidence of learning within the grading period and a minimum of four written works and four performance tasks within the quarter. For online distance learning, written outputs may include blog posts; reaction or reflection papers; essays; graphs ...

  21. Tutorial: Sample A CSP Performance Task

    The Create Performance Task section of the end-of-course exam consists of four prompts that require students to write responses that demonstrate understanding of their personal Create performance task. The following are sample prompts for each of the four categories - Program Design, Function, and Purpose, Algorithm Development, Errors and ...

  22. AP CSP: About Create Performance Task Updates

    The Create performance task for 2023-24 will still consist of three components—program code, video, and instead of the written response, a student-authored Personalized Project Reference containing screen captures of their list and procedure. Students are required to spend at least 9 hours of in-class time developing their program code, video ...

  23. Reading & Writing

    Quarter 3 Activities. R&W Summative Tests. R&W Performance Tasks. Pre-Test. Contact the Teacher. I'm a fighter through and through. I don't give up. I have a strong heart and I will push until there's nothing left in me. -Liz Carmouche.