Performance Assessments

Free Online Event: Performance Assessments

Evaluating Students Through Group Work, Projects, and Portfolios

Is there a better way than standardized tests to find out what students are learning? A small number of states, districts, and educators have long sought to find an answer to that question. Problem- and project-based learning, cooperative learning, portfolios, senior projects, and competence-based learning—to name a few—are all versions of this ongoing movement to evaluate students on what they can do with what they know rather than their test-taking skills.

But evaluating student learning this way can be highly subjective:

    • How can teachers and administrators assess students’ performance in fair, constructive ways?
    • What are the biggest challenges to implementing performance-based learning and how are schools getting around them?
    • How do you know students are acquiring the deeper learning that projects were intended to cultivate?

Education Week offers a big-picture look at the current state of performance assessment and pinpoints some best practices. In this virtual event, Education Week journalists and guests will staff online "discussion" rooms on a host of topics, including group work, the move to competency-based learning, and new efforts to abolish letter grades.

Join them on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, from 1 to 3 p.m. ET, for a deep dive into student assessments in your schools. This Online Summit provides you a unique opportunity to directly interact with reporters and assessment experts and practitioners; to watch a livestreamed series of interviews with the reporters after they’ve “broken it down” with you; and finally, to enjoy a live webinar presentation led by an Education Week reporter on the very latest in student assessments derived directly from our latest special report on the topic.


Feb. 19, 2019
1-3 p.m. ET*

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*Agenda and times subject to change. Check back regularly for updates.

  • 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET | Student Assessment Summit 2019 Discussions Open
    Education Week journalists and guests provide practical takeaways on student assessment
    Room 1: A Statewide Perspective on Competency-Based Assessment
    Moderator: Stephen Sawchuk, Associate Editor, Education Week
    ‣ Join Education Week’s curriculum reporter Stephen Sawchuk for a discussion of the biggest challenges of performance-based assessments and how one district is incorporating them into its graduation requirements.

    Room 2: Performance Assessment and College Admissions
    Moderator: Catherine Gewertz, Senior Contributing Writer, Education Week
    ‣ Do students have a tougher time getting into college if they come from schools that use projects and portfolios as assessments? Veteran reporter Catherine Gewertz explores several initiatives that are working with colleges to take a broader view of applicants’ academic achievements.

    Room 3: Letter Grades: Help or a Hindrance?
    Moderator: Madeline Will, Staff Writer, Education Week
    ‣ A growing number of teachers complain that letter grades tend to distract students from real learning and are too heavily based on non-academic factors. But this grading system is notoriously difficult to eradicate, and schools’ attempts to substitute alternative grading systems often face backlash. Education Week reporter Madeline Will and her guest discuss how some teachers are moving away from the traditional grading practices.

    Room 4: Making Group Projects Fair for Everyone
    Moderator: Sarah D. Sparks, Associate Editor, Education Week
    ‣ A common complaint among students working in group projects is that the work is divided unfairly; one student carries the load or dominates the discussion, while others just show up. How can teachers ensure that tasks and grades for group work are being doled out fairly? Sarah Sparks explores practical wisdom and research on what works in evaluating group projects.

    Room 5: Making Assessment Painless
    Moderator: Alyson Klein, Assistant Editor, Education Week
    ‣ Thanks to a new state law, Georgia is trying out game-based assessments for students in kindergarten through 2nd grades. These are “formative assessments” to help teachers gauge what students know in math and reading and so far dozens of districts have signed up to participate. Alyson Klein shares insights from Georgia educators on how their experiment with game-based assessments is working out.

  • 2:30–3:00 p.m. ET | Final Reporter Wrap-up
    Student Assessments: In Conversation With Education Week
    Led by the reporters, the Education Week newsroom will close out the day with insights from the discussions they’ve had with you, the readers.

Guests, Speakers, and Moderators

Catherine Gewertz
Senior Contributing Writer
Education Week

Gewertz is a reporter covering assessment and pathways from the middle grades to high school and beyond. Since joining Education Week in 1999, she has been the lead common-core reporter and has covered urban schools. Previously, Gewertz was a staff writer at United Press International and The Los Angeles Times.

Alyson Klein
Assistant Editor
Education Week

Klein is Education Week's lead federal policy reporter with primary responsibility for the U.S. Department of Education, the White House, and other executive agencies.

Stephen Sawchuk
Associate Editor
Education Week

Sawchuk covers curriculum and instruction, with a focus on the Common Core State Standards, literacy, social studies, and STEM. A veteran education reporter with 10 years' experience writing about K-12 education, Sawchuk formerly covered the teaching profession for Education Week. He joined the newspaper in 2008 and was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan from 2016-17.

Sarah D. Sparks
Assistant Editor
Education Week

Sparks is a reporter for Education Week who has covered education research and the science of learning for more than a decade. Sarah joined Education Week in 2010, and has published on education and other issues in Education Daily, the Republican-American, the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, and others.

Madeline Will
Staff Writer
Education Week

Will is a reporter for Education Week who covers the teaching profession. She rejoined the staff in 2016 as the assistant editor for Education Week Teacher after previously interning at Education Week in 2014. In between, she worked as the publications fellow for the Student Press Law Center and interned at the Chronicle of Higher Education.