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Standard Authentic Assessment
An assessment task, problem, or project is authentic if it:
1. Is realistic.
2. Requires judgement and innovation.
3. Asks the student to “do” the subject.
4. Replicates or stimulates the contexts in which adults are “tested” in the workplace,
in civil life, and in personal life.
5. Assesses the student’s ability to efficiently and effectively use a repertoire of
knowledge and skill to negotiate a complex task.
6. Allows appropriate opportunities to rehearse, practice, consult resources, and get
feedback on and refine performances and products.
Educational researcher Fred Newmann and his colleagues at the University of
Wisconsin have developed a similar set of standards for judging the authenticity of tasks in
assessments and instructional work.

In their view, authentic tasks require:

Construction of Knowledge
1. Student organization of information (higher order skills)
2. Student consideration of alternatives
Disciplined Inquiry
3. Core disciplinary content knowledge
4. Core disciplinary processes
5. Written communications to elaborate understanding
Value Beyond School
6. Connecting problems to the world beyond the classroom
7. Involving an audience beyond the school
Typical Test VS Authentic Task
Conventional test questions do not replicate the kinds of
challenges that adults face in the workplace, in civil affairs, or in their
personal lives. While test items have a use in assessment, in the same
way that drills have a place in coaching, the sum of the items is not
performance, whether we are considering intellectual or athletic mastery.

Assessment ought to be educative in the basic sense that

students are entitled to direct testing that educates them about the
purpose of schooling and the nature of adult work. Authentic tasks thus
supply greater incentives for students to persist with day-in and day-out
learning and insight into the reasons for specific lessons.
Key Differences Between Typical Test and Authentic Task
Typical Test Authentic Task Indicators of Authenticity
We assess whether the student can explain,
Require correct responses Require quality product and/or apply, self-adjust, or justify answers, not just
only. performance, and justification. the correctness of answers using facts and
Are known as much as possible in The tasks, criteria, and standards by which
Must be unknown in advance advance; involve excelling at work will be judged are predictable or
to ensure validity. predictable demanding and core known- like the recital piece, the play,
tasks; are not “gotcha!” experiences. engine to be fixed, proposal to a client, etc.
The task is a challenge and a set of
Require real-world use of knowledge:
Are disconnected from a constraints that are authentic- likely to be
the student must “do” history,
realistic context and realistic encountered by the professional, citizen or
science, etc. in realistic simulations
constraints. consumer. (know-how, not plugging in, is
or actual use.
The task is multifaceted and non-routine,
Are integrated challenges in which even if there is a “right” answer. It thus
Contain isolated items
knowledge and judgement must be requires problem clarification, trial and
requiring use of recognition
innovatively used to fashion a quality error, adjustments, adapting to the case or
of known answers or kills.
product or performance. facts at hand, etc.
Key Differences Between Typical Test and Authentic Task
Typical Test Authentic Task Indicators of Authenticity
The task involves the important aspects of
Are simplified so as to be Involve complex and non-arbitrary performance and/or core challenges of
easy to score reliably. tasks, criteria, and standards. the field of study, not the easily scored;
does not sacrifice validity for reliability.
The work is designed to reveal whether
Are iterative: contain recurring the student has achieved real versus
Are one shot.
essential tasks, criteria, and standards. pseudo mastery, or understanding versus
mere familiarity, over time.
Provide direct evidence, involving tasks The task is valid and fair on its face. It
Depend on highly technical that have been validated against core thus evokes student interest and
correlations. adult roles and discipline-based persistence, and seems apt and
challenges. challenging to students and teacher.
Provide usable, diagnostic (sometimes The assessment is designed not merely to
concurrent) feedback: the student is audit performance but to improve future
Provide a score.
able to confirm results and self-adjust performance. The student is seen as the
as needed. primary “customer” of information.
Degrees of Authenticity

Inauthentic Somewhat Realistic Authentic

Design a house using specific Design and build a model
Explain a data set. mathematical formulas and house that meets standards
shapes. and client demands.
Write a proposal to present to
Write a persuasive essay on
Write a paper on laws. appropriate legislators to
why a law should be changed.
change a current law.
Read a teacher-chosen text Read to class a self-selected Make an audiotape of a story
segment. text. for use in library.
Authenticity is essential, but authenticity alone is insufficient to create an
effective assessment task. The design of assessment tasks will depend on a host of
related decisions and, the most important, the tasks must tell us how students are
doing in relation to specific achievement targets. Thus, assessment tasks are not
instructional activities.
An educative assessment system would therefore deliberately build in and
make central challenges that require the student to attend to feedback and make
adjustments accordingly in authentically complex situations.
The aim of educative assessment is not to eliminate test items but to make
them properly subordinate to complex performance demands, in the same way that
coaches do simple sideline drills in preparation for games. Drills are not the game, yet
drills are helpful in working on and testing specific knowledge and skill.
Skill Execution VS Intelligent Adjustment
Straightforward Execution of Skill Intelligent Adjustment Essential
Follow the recipe. • Prepare a meal using available ingredients, while addressing
specific varied likes and dislikes.
• Fix an overcooked fish
Speak in public. Speak to raise funds and get elected.
Do the science lab as mapped out. Design and debug an experiment.
Take a history test. Conduct an oral history, write up findings, and respond to criticism.
Take a vocabulary test in French. Take an immersion challenge to communicate successfully in a target
language with speakers who speak no English.
Write an essay. Get an op-ed piece published.
Take a written test on auto mechanics. Enter the annual national competition on student teams repairing
cars with unknown defects.
Do a graphic assignment. Satisfy a design client.
Build a product. Build a finance an affordable and desirable product based on a
business plan and market research.
Know the facts of history. • Research controversial historical account to determine the facts.
• Build a successful museum exhibit.