Simply testing an isolated skill or a retained fact does not effectively measure a student’s capabilities. To accurately evaluate what a person has learned, an assessment method must examine his or her collective abilities.This is what is meant by authentic assessment. Authentic assessment presents students with real-world challenges that require them to apply their relevant skills and knowledge.
Authentic assessment accomplishes each of the following goals:
Requires students to develop responses rather than select from predetermined options
Elicits higher order thinking in addition to basic skills
Directly evaluates holistic projects
Synthesizes with classroom instruction
Uses samples of student work (portfolios) collected over an extended time period
Stems from clear criteria made known to students
Allows for the possibility of multiple human judgments
Relates more closely to classroom learning
Teaches students to evaluate their own work
“Fairness” does not exist when assessment is uniform, standardized, impersonal, and absolute. Rather, it exists when assessment is appropriate–in other words, when it’s personalized, natural, and flexible; when it can be modified to pinpoint specific abilities and function at the relevant level of difficulty; and when it promotes a rapport between examiner and student.
Authentic assessment is designed to be criterion-referenced rather than norm-referenced. Such evaluation identifies strengths and weaknesses, but does not compare or rank students.
Authentic assessment is often based on performance: Students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, or competencies in whatever way they find appropriate.
There are several challenges to using authentic assessment methods. They include managing its time-intensive nature, ensuring curricular validity, and minimizing evaluator bias.
Fourth Generation Evaluation, by Egon G. Guba and Yvonna S. Lincoln. Newberry Park, CA: Sage Publications.