Special Report: Projects, Portfolios, and Performance Assessments

Exploring Alternatives to Traditional Tests

The recent backlash against standardized testing is renewing interest in alternative ways to evaluate students’ learning progress. Proponents of these alternative approaches bet that “capstone” projects, portfolios, and performance-based tests can deepen students’ learning and teach them valuable skills for college or the workplace.

But the practices also raise questions: Is an essay a performance assessment? How should students be evaluated in group projects? Will students make it into colleges without traditional grades and test scores? Can digital games tell teachers what students know—or still need to learn? Find out in this special report.


Special Report: Projects, Portfolios, and Performance Assessments

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This isn't the first time states and schools have turned to projects, portfolios, exhibitions, and essays to measure students' learning. Here are lessons from the last go-around.
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Educators in Oakland, Calif., say the yearlong graduation projects are helping students master oral, writing, and research skills that will serve them well for whatever comes next.
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Most colleges rely on standardized tests and grades to decide who gets into their schools. A handful of schools want to change up the mix.
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Elementary school teachers in the Peach State are using "game-based" formative assessments to take a pulse on their students' learning.
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Some teachers are ditching grades or using standards-based grades and "no zero" grading policies to keep students more focused on learning and less intent on grade-grubbing.
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Education Week asked three 8th grade teachers to evaluate real student responses to an open-ended question on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in social studies. Here's what they said.
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