Developing Performance Assessments for Math

Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

Are you looking for meaningful ways to assess your students in mathematics? Check out this lesson to find ways to use performance assessments so that your students can show what they know while demonstrating higher-level thinking skills.

What are Performance Assessments?

Using performance assessments for math is a great way to help your students develop higher-level thinking skills and apply what they know. A performance assessment is a way to evaluate that allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of a particular concept through application. Most of the time, it is through real-life situations that students have an opportunity to show what they know about what they've learned.

For example, if you want students to demonstrate knowledge relating to the standard of Statistics and Probability, choose an authentic experience that will allow students to collect, analyze, and share data with others.

Let's take a look at a few tips that will help you create meaningful performance assessments.

Tips for Developing Performance Assessments

Creating performance assessments is going to take time and planning on your part. However, it is worth all the time and effort when you get to see your students demonstrate knowledge in ways other than via paper and pencil. You will see first-hand how their minds operate when working through problems or tasks. You may be surprised what they come up with!

When developing your own performance assessments, there are ways to make them more successful. Check out the image below containing tips for developing performance assessments!


Tips to Develop Performance Assessments
PA Tips


It's also important to keep in mind common misconceptions and/or errors that students make in mathematics. This will help guide you in the correct direction when selecting a specific task you want the students to do.

For example, students may think that algebra is never used in real-life. You could clear up this misconception by providing students with a performance task relating to real-life situations such as filling up your car with gas. You probably also notice that when students are in a rush and don't show or explain their work, they make simple errors. By making students show or explain their work in their performance assessment, you encourage students to work carefully in each step.

Let's dig deeper and find out more about performance assessments!

Use a Variety of Tasks

When creating performance assessments you want to use a variety of tasks for students to get an opportunity to show what they know in mathematics. It's important to keep this in mind when developing performance assessments. One of the first things you want to make sure of is that you are choosing a concept from class that students are supposed to master. Use your state's math standards or the Common Core Standards to help zone in on key concepts.

Next, you have to formulate a performance task that will properly assess whether students understand a concept at a deeper level or not. You want the tasks to be clear and concise, yet encourage higher-level thinking skills. The task should not be impossible or too easy.

Finally, you are ready to develop the performance assessment for math. Check out this list of a variety of performance assessments you could use:

  • Presentations
  • Portfolios
  • Specific Hands-on Tasks
  • Projects
  • Learning Centers (such as exhibits or fairs where students display their work)

Dig in for a deeper look at some examples of performance assessments by looking at this table:

Performance Assessment Type Advantage Example
Presentations Incorporate technology Students collect, analyze, and share data through a PowerPoint presentation
Portfolios Culmination of student work over time showing growth Sample of problem-solving and explanation from beginning, middle, and end of the year
Hands-on Tasks with Explanation Allows students to actually ''do'' something Constructing 3-D models as part of problem- solving then explaining how or why
Projects Allows for authenticity and uniqueness Function concepts where students demonstrate a type of relationship in numbers
Learning Centers Opportunity to create and demonstrate a concept Set up an exhibit that teaches and shows examples of algebraic concepts

Since you've taken a look at creating performance assessments, how do you go about evaluating them?

Give it a Score

As you are developing performance assessments, you need to consider how you want to evaluate students. Since performance assessments lend themselves to a variety of approaches and solutions, you can't create only one way to evaluate or score students' work.

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