Authentic assessment refers to assessment tasks that resemble actual situations in the real world. Both the material and the assessment tasks look as natural as possible. In addition, authentic assessment values the thinking behind work, the process, as much as the finished product.
Observation and Documentation
At Aurora, teachers observe and document student work. These observations take place in little and big ways, one-on-one and in a group and are integrated directly with instruction throughout the school day. In this way our professionally trained and experienced teachers and staff work closely with each child so individual student skills and needs are accurately understood.
For example, our K/1 teachers meet several times through out the year with each student to assess how they read and understand text. When visiting Aurora, it is not uncommon to see a teacher/student pair reading and discussing together in the hallway. These meetings are so common that students do not feel “test pressure”, in fact, they don’t necessarily realize they’re being assessed at all. As a result, our teachers always know where every student is in every area of instruction.
Understanding Individual Progress
The most important reason for assessment is the student’s understanding of his or her needs and progress. Students work with their classmates and teachers to develop portfolios that show their best work. Far more informative than a letter grade, portfolios enable parents and students to have a more clear understanding as they can actually see individual progress. Through twice yearly teacher-family conferences and twice yearly student progress reports, teachers document the details of growth in the many facets of each content area. This further informs parents about the specific strengths and growth areas for their child.
Skills Not Tests
We do not use norm referenced standardized testing in measuring or evaluating our students nor in designing our curriculum. Research is clear that these tests are often inaccurate, do not give a true picture of a student’s abilities, and can be racially, culturally and gender biased. We do recognize that many educational institutions continue to use these measures to place learners. Therefore, students in the upper grades practice test-taking skills in preparation for standardized admission exams for middle school and future classroom tests and quizzes.