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How Performance Assessments Amid the COVID Crisis Can Help Us to Reimagine Schooling

May 21, 2020 | Linked Learning Alliance

Cosponsored by Envision Learning Partners, Learning Policy Institute, and the Linked Learning Alliance as part of the California Performance Assessment Collaborative.

The COVID-19 crisis has left educators seeking out new ways to assess students' learning and abilities. To help address that need, the California Performance Assessment Collaborative will kick off a series of online conversations focused on the use of virtual performance assessment to demonstrate students’ readiness for college, career, and civic life and help us to reimagine schooling.

This online “Defending Learning at a Distance” series builds on initial responses to the COVID pandemic by the Envision Learning Partners, the Linked Learning Alliance, and theLearning Policy Institute. We will provide education practitioners and policymakers with multiple opportunities to observe students’ virtual defenses of learning and engage in conversations with the inspiring students and educators who have remained committed to performance assessment despite school closures.

Performance assessments—such as presentations, projects, and portfolios that show not only what a student knows, but also what they can do—are a critical aspect of the Linked Learning approach, which provides all students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind needed for postsecondary success. And this spring, Linked Learning pathways have adapted to virtual demonstrations of student learning through online exhibitions, portfolio and capstone project defenses, and other creative ways to close out the year and celebrate student learning.

With this spring’s adjusted grading policies and waived requirements for college entrance exams, virtual performance assessments can provide students with meaningful opportunities to demonstrate that they are active and qualified learners. Students in Linked Learning pathways, Envision Schools, and many other schools across California are using their virtual performance assessments to publicly demonstrate their mastery of curricular content—in many cases interdisciplinary and connected to a career theme—as well as the skills, knowledge, and habits of mind necessary for success in college and the workplace, through formative and summative performance-based assessments.

How you can get involved with the online series:

Share your stories. If you are working with students on virtual performance assessments, we encourage you to record and share these culminating educational experiences (adhering to district and FERPA policies). We would like to work with you and your students to feature your efforts in upcoming online events and other resources aimed at elevating best practices and lessons learned as more high schools and colleges explore the use of performance assessment. Check out our first vlog from Dani Martin, a senior at Envision Schools. Share your stories here.

Join a live virtual senior defense. During the last week in May and the first week in June, participants will serve as audience members during a live virtual Linked Learning senior defense, and follow up the “real time” event with a brief discussion of the process and value of this approach to assessment. Spaces are limited. Register for a live student defense here.

Debrief a student’s portfolio and defense process with the student, their teacher, and members of the performance assessment community. In the first week of June, members of our community are invited to participate in an interactive experience where they will see a portion of a student’s defense presentation and discuss the process with the student and teacher. Participants will debrief the experience with other attendees in smaller breakout groups. Spaces are limited. Register for a student portfolio debrief here.

Take a deep dive this June and July to plan “pandemic-proof” instruction for 2020-21. Explore ways to align instruction to skills-based goals, project-based learning, formative assessment, and performance assessment. Participants will leverage practical tools and research from the Collaborative to support planning and will complete the sessions with concrete plans. School and district teams are encouraged to join this professional development opportunity. Pre-register for Summer Deep Dive here.

There is a window of opportunity to significantly advance equity and excellence in education. Now is the time to elevate awareness and evaluation of well-rounded performance assessments that can be used both online and inside classrooms.

About the California Performance Assessment Collaborative
The California Performance Assessment Collaborative represents educators, policymakers, and researchers who seek to expand high quality performance assessment for all students. These assessments include presentations, projects, and portfolios which require students to demonstrate applied knowledge of content and use 21st century skills.