"Assessment is generally considered the last
requirement in a unit to test students on what they learned. However,
in our view assessment is an ongoing process and an integral part of
the unit from the very beginning. Developing a rubric to guide our assessments
creates a more authentic environment." --Theresa
Defining Quality Work
teachers develop and use scoring rubrics that they share with students
as performance tasks are introduced. The home roller coaster project includes
five criteria for which students are scored as "Meets Mastery"
or "Redesign Required." For full credit students are asked to
write a description of how they would redesign their ride to meet the
Theresa, Meile, and Jill each use regular journaling to track progress
and identify problems before they grow. Depending on the journal entry,
students may turn them in for review and receive credit for complete responses.
During the final group project, design team members meet during their
science period to report on their individual progress.
The teachers developed a variety of scoring guides designed
to assess both individual and group work, and used them liberally throughout
When it came to the final group presentations, the three teachers watched
the presentations and made notes. But they found that the presentations
went too quickly and were difficult to grade while students presented
in class. So, they decided to grade the projects together, without students
present. Theresa describes the process they used.
The Roller Coaster Design Team Proposals
Each final presentation by design teams was led by the public
relations director. The entire team had to contribute specific points
during the presentation. Most teams used PowerPoint for their multimedia
presentation, though a few built Web sites, and a couple made videos.
Four different team proposals are below. Teacher narrative describes the
performance of each team member on his or her task.
This group, two boys and two girls, were helped along by their public
relations person who, according to the teachers, pulled things together.
The Black Diamond
This group's public relations director chose to build a Web page to
support the presentation, it explained the theme and features of the ride.
The architect's poster also reflected the creativity of this group.
The History of Roller Coasters
This group's engineer and architect brought the best out in each other.
This group, with the same balance in gender, had a similar need as many
of the groups--more time for the architect and engineer to coordinate
"Traditional testing still gives the quickest
survey of what students know on a knowledge level and shows how well
this type of curriculum and instruction transfers to new situations."
All three teachers believe strongly in performance assessment. They see
the final group design presentation with its required products as the
most significant assessment for this project. However, they also include
traditional testing methods during projects. Both Meile and Theresa developed
multiple choice tests for this unit. Another assessment tool Theresa uses
is to ask her students to create their own multiple choice tests, from
which she can choose questions while formulating her final exam.