Authentic assessment follows from recognizing that students can express learning achievements in unique ways versus expecting all students to show what they have learned by responding to a common problem with a single procedure for solving the problem. According to John D. McNeil, Education Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), “authentic assessment encourages the use of a variety of methods so that a richer impression of what students think, believe, and know is shown than that obtained by any single method alone”. In my science classroom, students have to read information in order to understand the concepts that we are currently discussing. We use newer assessments such as “Text in the Middle” in our building to assess reading comprehension. There is no single right answer, or questions asking students for the recall of text. Students explain their prior knowledge of the topic, and the metacognitive strategies they used to make sense of the text. They also answer application questions, which have many acceptable answers.
When students complete the reading assignment, we have a shared book talk which allows students to discuss their reading process, appreciate different ways of reading, and to find classrooms to be places where students can help each other understand the material. When we have the shared book talk, students are allowed to draw pictures about the text, or set-up a role-play. The more options the students have to express themselves, the more the classroom will benefit by building their content knowledge. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences shows that students learn better from doing various activities and not the same method every day. The same is true with assessments. Students need to be able to express themselves through their own intelligences and not just standardized multiple-choice tests. Students can explain, draw, role-play, write a story, answer questions, and create a model showing that they understand the content.