Culturally Relevant Performance Assessments

Koppenhaver, Chelsie

Topic: Curriculum Assessment

Summary: This article from the Learning Policy Institute discusses how performance assessments, like portfolios, panel presentations and personal reflections, can be made culturally relevant, thereby focusing on the student’s own personal experiences and empowering them to truly express themselves as an individual. This involves centering the relationships a student has built and cultivated with peers, staff and others in the course of their learning. Additionally important is the use of a student’s own personal experience as a way to drive civic and community engagement, an especially interesting focus given this course’s emphasis on communication and finding solutions to real-world problems.

Evaluation: It is important for us to realize that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to assessment that will work for every student or every school. If we want to communicate to students that they are the masters of their own learning then we must realize that they are each unique learners with different backgrounds and needs. The performance assessments discussed here also reach out into the community, engaging them with the students and the school at large, something that is important, not just for students and their families, but for community members who otherwise would not have a relationship or feel any connection to the school.

Citation: Kaul, M. (2019, May 28). Keeping students at the center with culturally relevant performance assessments. Retrieved from

The Future Is Performance Assessment

Bagley-Rowe, Heather


French, D. (2017). The Future Is Performance Assessment. Voices In Urban Education, (46), 6-13.

French examines examines future accountability systems in light of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and highlights the benefits of performance assessments: creative student learning and life skills development, differentiation in teaching, and bringing teacher expertise to the forefront. Standardized testing falls short in measuring how well students develop citizenship skills. Teachers use performance assessment to measure student learning. Students demonstrate knowledge transfer by applying problem-solving skills and building or creating a new work. Students voice that performance assessments enhanced their learning, honed their thinking skills, and helped them develop skills in ways they learn best. Performance assessment schools require teacher expertise to ensure measures match appropriate standards. The benefits include student learning enrichment, and teachers’ craft improvement through teacher collaboration. Although more research is needed, early evidence shows that performance assessment systems improve the way students learn, and the way teachers teach.

As the author mentions, the field may benefit from additional research. The examples French uses tell an interesting story of student experience with performance assessment, but may be isolated, or given by students who may very well excel regardless of the type of learning and assessment. I was glad to see the mention of teacher collaboration as a benefit to placing teachers at the center of an assessment system. Some schools may be content to allow each teacher to work individually, but through my MLIS studies, I have learned that teacher collaboration improves both the student experience, as well as boosts teachers in their teaching.