One of the most important advantages of personalized,
project-based learning is the opportunity for authentic assessment; meaningful
measurement of learning outcomes and learning process.
But what does authentic assessment really look like?
Here’s one example from two students in the STEM program at
Rocky Heights Middle School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. We’ve shared their
project presentation unedited (the student’s names have been removed in
compliance with District privacy policies).
Note first that the students chose a project that was
relevant to their personal interests and real-world experience. Note too that they selected a challenge level
was appropriate to their abilities and knowledge. Personalizing the project is
this manner is a critical step towards authentic assessment; learners are
engaged and have a personal context with which to describe their learning.
With that foundation, the learners were able to actively
journal their learning on a daily basis. Their project presentation describes
their collaborative process. It includes challenges they encountered and how
they were solved. They discuss time management challenges (including
constraints imposed by the school’s standardized testing schedule). They
reflect and self-assess using a rubric specifically designed for personalized,
Most importantly, they candidly and enthusiastically share
their setbacks and celebrate their achievements. This rich documentation of
learning outcomes is simply not possible through traditional assessment
Personalized learning and authentic assessment forms the
very foundation of the SmartLab program. It’s important to note that, while
this is an excellent example of a project presentation, it is by no means an
unusual example. Together with our SmartLab partner schools all across the
country, we are providing innovative, meaningful methods for assessment of
You can learn more about authentic assessment in a SmartLab
[And a big thanks to Matt and Zack at Rocky Heights for
allowing us to share their work!]
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This week's news included approval for a SmartLab at Hart School, Homewood District 153 (IL). The Hart School SmartLab will feature both STEM and media arts programs.
District 153 School Board President Shelley Marks said, “I’ve never been so excited by anything we decided to do. It offers a whole new level of engagement.” In the process of evaluating this investment, a district delegation visited several SmartLabs in the Chicago area. Marks said District 153 representatives were very impressed by how students “took responsibility for learning” through collaboration, communication and coding - all skills typically used in the workplace.
Learn more about the District 153 approval here.
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