Unit 3: Steps to Creating Authentic Assessment

Steps to Creating Authentic Assesment

Target Objectives:

1. Understand the four step process to creating authentic assessment.

2. Understand how a rubric can effectively measure student performance on an authentic assessment opportunity.

3. Understand the characteristics of an effective rubric.

Question 1: What steps do I take to create an authentic assignment?

Now that you have learned why authentic assessment is important in the classroom, and what various forms of authentic assessment there are, it is time to learn how to create an authentic assesment for your classroom. According to Jon Mueller, North Central College, there are four specific steps that should be followed to create an authentic assignment. The steps are as follows:

STEP 1 - Standards

An assignment should always be formed with standards and objectives in mind (backwards design). In order to create a task for students to complete, you must first ask yourself, "what should my students know following this lesson and assignment". This will give you a starting point for creating varoius ideas for assessment. You must first start by having the end result of the assignment in mind. Once you have decided what you want your students to get out of their task, you can move on to step 2.

STEP 2 - Authentic Tasks

In this step, a teacher will decide how they want students to portray their knowledge of the subject matter using a real-world activity or scenario. A task should be chosen for students to complete that meets the authentic assessment criteria. It should be a meaningful task that students feel they can relate to and can apply in their lives.

STEP 3 - Criteria/Measures

In step 3, you will decide what the student performing the assignment or task or will look like. What would you like the end product to be? You have already chosen how you want the student to portray their knowledge through an authentic task, and you must now determine what that will look like and what criteria will prove student understanding. In other words, how will you know that the student has performed well or not? Knowing what criteria you are looking for in an authentic assignment will assist you in the next step - creating a rubric.

STEP 4 - Rubric

After you have decided what task you would like students to complete, and what criteria you will use to decide whether or not they have meet the standards, you will create a rubric for evaluation of students. A rubric is a way for you to evaluate what level of performance the students are currently performing at. Rubrics will be discussed further in this unit.

Question 2: How can a rubric assist me in assessing students?

A rubric is a great assessment tool because it breaks down the students performance into various levels of criteria. Using a rubric, a teacher is able to evaluate what level of performance a student is currently at, and what they may need to improve upon. Major benefits of using a rubric to assess students include:

Marble.jpg A rubric provides a teacher with a scale of where the student's current knowledge and performance are currently at as well as what they may need to improve upon.

Marble.jpg A rubric provides a student with their own guidelines while they are working on an assessment. They are able to guide themselves, as well as assess their own work or the work of their classmates using the rubric provided to them.

Marble.jpg A teacher can work with his or her students to develop assessment criteria for a rubric. This way, students are taking part in the evaluation process and feel more of an attachment to what they are working on. They need to live up to their own standards (criteria) as well as that of the teacher.

Question 3: What are the characteristics of an effective rubric?


A rubric is comprised of the following:

1. Criteria - characteristics of what the performance should look like. Criteria was step 3 of the 4-step process of developing authentic assessment. It is important for a teacher to know what criteria they are looking for in an assignment or performance before they determine various levels of performance.

2. Levels of Performance - different performance levels are written for each of the criteria chosen. In general, a teacher will produce an example for each level of performance. For an example, if one of the criteria in a rubric is for the student to "use the Internet to support learning and research", simple levels of performance may be seen as follows:

  • Lower Level Performance: student has trouble navigating website or is unable to find answers regarding the research questions using the website.
  • Middle Level Performance: Student navigates websites with a few problems, and is able to find most answers regarding the research questions using the website.
  • Higher Level Performance: Student is able to navigate the website with little to no problems and is able to use the Internet to correctly answer research questions.

A lower level, middle level, and higher level of performance were all given in the above example. Usually, a teacher will use descriptive words or numbers to grade each level of performance. The levels may be numbered 1-3, or descriptive performance words might be used such as poor, good, fair, or excellent to determine student success. Criteria are usually placed along the left hand column of a rubric and levels of performance are placed along the top row of the rubric.

See this blank rubric example: File:Examplerubrictable.doc

Here is another example of a rubric I created for ETAP 526 for students to evaluate the validity of a website: File:Website evaluation.doc


Using all of the information you have currently read regarding rubrics, create a new rubric for an assessment that you currently give your students. You may choose to update a rubric that you already use or create an entirely new rubric for any assessment that you currently use in the classroom. You may use your own format or Rubistar (link to program below) to create your rubric. It is all about what works for you and your students.

The following is a link to "Rubistar" - a program in which you can create rubrics for your classroom. Registration is free. [1]


After completing this unit on creating authentic assessment and rubrics, answer the following personal reflection questions:

  • What new information did you gain regarding the steps to creating authentic assessment?
  • Were you already creating assignments in this way? If not, what ways could you improve upon how you are currently creating student assessment?
  • Are you currently creating rubrics to assess your student's performance? What did you get out of creating or recreating a rubric for a current student assignment?
  • Reflect upon any other questions, thoughts, or ideas you had during this unit.

Move on to Unit 4: Evaluating and Revising Assessment

Back to Creating Authentic Assessment