Now a set of case studies from the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching appears to support those contentions.
The four case studies are "Graduation by Portfolio at Central Park East Secondary School," "The Senior Project: Authentic Assessment at Hodgson Vocational/Technical High School," and "Authentic Teaching, Learning, and Assessment With New English Learners at International High School," all by Jacqueline Ancess and Linda Darling-Hammond, and "The Bronx New School: Weaving Assessment Into the Fabric of Teaching and Learning," by Beverly Falk.
They describe how teaching and learning have changed at four schools that developed new measures of student performance. These include requiring students to write essays, complete research projects, keep journals, and otherwise exhibit what they know and can do.
To graduate from Central Park East Secondary School in New York City, for example, students must complete 14 portfolios in various curriculum areas and present and defend them to a graduation committee. Teacher Edwina Branch told researchers that "developing standards for mathematics or science portfolios makes teachers think about what they're doing in their classrooms."
Copies of the reports may be ordered for $8 each, prepaid, from NCREST, Box 110, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, N.Y. 10027; (212) 678-3432.
While many states are developing alternative assessments, little is known about how much such innovations cost.
A recent report from the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, based at the University of California at Los Angeles, explores the factors that contribute to the expense of the new measures.
"The largest single expenditure item in any assessment program seems likely to be personnel," said Lawrence O. Picus, a partner at the center and the author of the report, "A Conceptual Framework for Analyzing the Costs of Alternative Assessments."
Copies of the study, technical report 384, are available for $4 each, prepaid, from cresst, University of California Graduate School of Education, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90024-1522; (310) 206-1532.