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 students' 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 appropriate to their abilities and knowledge. Personalizing the project in 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 form 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 assessing student performance.
You can learn more about authentic assessment in SmartLabs here: http://www.creativelearningsystems.com/authentic-assessment.aspx
[And a big thanks to Matt and Zack at Rocky Heights for
allowing us to share their work!]
We were honored last week to host a delegation of educators
from Guangzhou City, China. This delegation of teachers, principals and superintendents,
affiliated with Beijing Normal University, visited Colorado SmartLabs to learn
about innovative approaches to STEM education in the U.S.
The China delegation visited Rocky Heights and Cresthill
middle schools (Douglas County School District), The Englewood middle and high
school campus (Englewood Schools), Wilder Elementary (Littleton Public Schools)
and Merrill Middle School (Denver Public Schools).
Highlights of the tours were meetings with the superintendents
of Littleton and Denver school systems and Richard Crandall, Colorado Commissioner
of Education. The delegation also enjoyed a Q&A session with STEM students
at Cresthill Middle School where both students and delegates had the opportunity
to compare and contrast educational systems in the U.S. and China.
Members of the delegation frequently remarked on the level
of engagement of students in the SmartLab STEM programs. They were impressed by
the use of applied technology for project work, the degree of choice and personalization
of learning, and authentic assessment through eportfolios. Common observations
were that, though there is no equivalent program in China, Chinese students
would benefit greatly from similar opportunities.
Congratulations to John Veit, Assistant Principal at Rocky Heights Middle School in Highlands Ranch Colorado. John was recently named Administrator of the Year by the Colorado High School Press Association. Rocky Heights has been a valued partner for many years and deserves all the high recognition its staff and students regularly receive.
And where else whould John receive his award but in the Media Arts SmartLab!