Unit 2: Types of Authentic Assessment


Types of Authentic Assessment

Target Objectives:

1. Describe the various types of authentic assessment that can be used in the classroom to determine student performance.

2. Understand how a portfolio is effective as an authentic assessment opportunity for students.

Question 1 - What are some examples of authentic assessment?

Authentic assessment can be either a short-term or long-term assignment for students. There is no specific length of time attached to an authentic assessment learning opportunity. However, "within a complete assessment system, there should be a balance of longer performance assessments and shorter ones" (Valencia, 1997). According to Lawrence Rudner, authentic assessment should require that students be active participants in learning and be able to demonstrate knowledge and skills. The following is a list of examples of authentic assessment that meet one or both of these requirements - active participation and/or demonstration of knowledge and skills. As you read through this list, keep in mind that some of the examples will work better for you depending on your grade level and topic area. Make a note of the examples of assessment that you could use in your own classroom.

Authentic Assessment examples:

  • Conduction research and writing a report
  • Character analysis
  • Student debates (individual or group)
  • Drawing and writing about a story or chapter
  • Experiments - trial and error learning
  • Journal entries (reflective writing)
  • Discussion partners or groups
  • Student self-assessment
  • Peer assessment and evaluation
  • Presentations
  • Projects
  • Portfolios
  • Tiered learning classrooms

The following two links will provide you with examples of authentic assessment and learning in the classroom. Please click on each link and watch the videos. This may provide a clearer understanding of just how diverse authentic assessment can be, and how it is used at all age levels.

As you watch the videos keep the following questions in mind:

  • How does this relate to my classroom?
  • Would I be able to incorporate this type of assessment?
  • What are key ideas that I can keep and use in my classroom?
  • How are the students personally benefiting from this type of assessment?

Example 1 - Elementary - [1]

Example 2 - Middle School Math (tiered assessment)- [2]

There are many great examples of authentic asseessment provided from Jon Mueller's Authentic Assessment Toolbox (North Central College). The examples are broken down into grade levels as well as subjects and even more specific topics within subjects. Check out this website and find the lesson examples that meet your own needs: [3]

Question 2 - How is a portfolio an effective authentic assessment opportunity?

A student portfolio is the one authentic assessment example that is focused on more intently in this mini-course because portofolios are a collection of students other various authentic learning opportunities and a showcase of student growth over the period of the course. A student portfolio needs to meet certain criteria in order to be deemed an "authentic" assessment. To put together a lump of student work from the entire school year is not an authentic assessment.

Ideally, a student portfolio would be considered authentic if the following apply:

1. The student carefully selected their own work and made their own decision of what work they were most proud of to be placed in their portfolio. It is a showcase for the student, teacher, parents, and school district.

2. Students are asked to reflect upon their own work - why they chose it, why it is important to them, how hard they worked, how it can be improved upon, etc.

In this situation, because the student chose their own pieces, and reflected upon their own work and personal growth throughout the course, it makes it more meaningful to them. The following is a great example of an authentic assessment in a 6th grade English classroom: File:Portfolioassignment.doc

(Note: this portfolio example was created by Susan Johnson and Christopher Michel)

Portfolios do not necessarily need to be evaluated. Most of the work that students choose to be showcased in a portfolio will already be graded. However, you can choose to create a rubric to evaluate student portfolios taking into consideration their effort, choice of assignments, development throughout the course, and personal reflection.


After completing this unit on types of authentic assessment, answer the following personal reflection question(s):

  • Of all of the examples of authentic assessment, which ones would work best for you and the subject and grade level you currently teach?
  • Do you see a portfolio as a useful assessment opportunity? What qualities of authentic assessment does a portfolio portray?
  • If you were to use a portfolio assignment in your classroom, would you like to use it to showcase student growth, showcase student work, or evaluate student work?
  • Reflect upon any other questions, ideas, or concerns you had during this unit.

Move on to Unit 3: Steps to Creating Authentic Assessment

Back to Creating Authentic Assessment