Authentic Assessment: Tools & Strategies

Instructor: Frank Clint

Frank has been an educator for over 10 years. He has a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction.

Traditional assessments provide good data, however the need for authentic assessment is more urgent in the 21st Century. Authentic assessment tools and strategies allow students to apply learning to real-world situations and help teachers track progress over time.

Authentic Assessment

Jian Lee tucks in his dress shirt and straightens his tie as he fights back the nervous feeling in his stomach. He spent hours rehearsing responses to questions he expects to be asked and feels well prepared for the interview ahead. He grabs his portfolio and heads out the door. Lucky for him, he got out of the house just in time; he almost missed the school bus!

Yes, Jian is only a student, but he has a job interview with his teacher. Jian's teacher strongly believes in using authentic assessments - having students apply their learning in a real-world, meaningful task to demonstrate mastery of knowledge.

Tools and Strategies

Jian's class has been studying about astronomy and using math to determine the velocity and acceleration of rockets. Today, Jian is doing a mock interview for a job at NASA in preparation for a field trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Jian's teacher has built her knowledge of authentic assessment over time and has a vast repertoire of strategies, or tasks, that she uses to assess her students' learning. She also uses portfolios and rubrics as tools to help her gather and score tasks throughout the year.


All assessments check for mastery of learning and show student progress. Authentic assessments differ from traditional assessments because they are task-based. Tasks assess students' ability to apply what they have learned to the real world. Because of this, authentic assessments take more time to complete than traditional assessments. Instead of giving a student a quiz with multiple choice questions, consider assigning a writing task, such as a brochure, a research paper, or a comic strip story book. You might decide on a performance task, such as technical or media creations and presentations for an audience. For instance, you might ask a student to prepare an oral speech, build a spreadsheet with graphs, or record a podcast. Jian's teacher is using a combination of the two. The interview is a performance task, and she also gave him a writing task, asking him to submit a portfolio with various drafts of a research paper he has been working on.

Students work on performance tasks using technology.


Portfolios are used to show progress over time. When Jian's teacher opens up his portfolio, she will see the final copy of his research paper at the top with all of the drafts and edits beneath. She has been working with him each week to get this paper to where it is now. Laying out all of the drafts, both she and Jian are able to see how his writing skills have grown. They can build upon his skills as he continues to write essays all year. Over time, the portfolio will show evidence of the mistakes he once made and the learning that has occurred because he no longer makes those mistakes. That is the power of portfolios.

Portfolios help you gather evidence of student progress.

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Authentic Assessment: Tools & Strategies Quiz

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Anet was asked to record the steps she used for solving a two-step math problem on an index card using only words. What authentic assessment strategy was used by her teacher?

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