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Designing for Deeper Learning:How to Develop Performance Tasks (Fall-16)

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The Course

Given their emphasis on complex and sophisticated disciplinary skills and understandings, the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and the C3 Framework for State Social Studies Standards require ways of assessing that go beyond routine multiple-choice tests. Whether students are learning to select, use, and explain evidence to support a claim or to analyze data to evaluate a hypothesis, tests that require that students only bubble in a scantron are inadequate to measure (or support) students' learning and growth. Performance assessments are more suited to this task. While performance assessments vary along multiple dimensions, including duration and focus, they all demand that students use and apply critical skills and knowledge to demonstrate understanding.

This seven session course will focus on building educators' capacity to use and develop curriculum-embedded performance assessments that fit local contexts. Course activities include reviewing sample performance tasks and developing a performance task that is aligned with a specific curricular unit and performance outcomes. We will use a learning-centered approach where assessments are not only about measuring learning, but are also events forlearning.

This MOOC is designed for grade 6-12 teachers working in the core disciplines of mathematics, language arts, history/social studies, and science. We also welcome other educators and policymakers. Participants will work collaboratively with other educators in their discipline to accomplish course learning goals and assignments.

The three main objectives of this course are for participants to:

  • Understand and identify features of high quality performance assessments;
  • Develop a grade-level, course-specific, practical, performance task that is aligned with (and embedded within) a curricular unit of study;
  • Contribute to building a community of educators focused on using performance-based assessments to identify and develop students' abilities.

More Information

This seven-session course will include video presentations, required readings, homework activities, and peer review. For each of the first five sessions, students can expect to spend a total of 2-4 hours watching videos, reading, completing assignments, and collaborating with peers. In the sixth and seventh session, students will do peer reviews of their colleagues' work and turn in their final assignments.

We encourage educators to work in groups or teams in the course. Students can join the class with existing partners, or create and join teams once the class has started.

Upon successful completion of the required assignments, students will earn a "Statement of Accomplishment" from NovoEd.

A brief outline of course sessions is as follows:

Session 1. What are performance assessments and why should I use them? What are the key principles of performance assessment?

Session 2. What is the range of performance assessments? How do I start designing a performance assessment?

Session 3. What makes a high quality performance assessment?

Session 4. How will I assess students' work?

Session 5. How do I tailor and adapt a worthwhile performance task for my diverse students? What does the design process look like in action?

Session 6. What makes a high quality performance assessment?

Session 7. Submit final product: Performance Assessment Portfolio. 



Director of History/Social Studies Learning at SCALE

Daisy Martin's professional work focuses on the teaching and learning of historical thinking and literacy. She has co-created several digital projects that make research-based, high quality teaching resources freely available, and has worked with teachers nationwide on designing and using curricula and performance-based assessments. Daisy is a co-founder of the Stanford History Education Group and co-led Her current projects include researching challenges and successes faced by educators in implementing coherent performance assessment systems, and working with history teachers in multiple states to design, implement, and learn from curriculum embedded performance assessments. A former history and civics teacher, Daisy holds a doctorate from Stanford University and a BA in history/philosophy from the University of Michigan.


The SCALE Content Team for this course share extensive experience with all aspects of developing, implementing, and using performance assessments to promote deeper learning. Susan Schultz, Nicole Renner, Jack Dieckmann, and Kari Kokka will provide instruction on their respective areas of expertise: Science, English/Language Arts, and Mathematics.


Director of Assessment Research and Development at SCALE

Ruth Chung Wei is currently Director of Assessment Research and Development at Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), where she leads the design and research on performance-based assessments used in K-12 schools and in teacher education programs. Her current research is focused on the potential of performance assessments to serve as measures of student learning and growth, and the effectiveness of tools and protocols for improving the quality of teacher-designed performance assessments. A former secondary school teacher in the New York City public schools, Ruth Chung Wei completed her doctorate in education at Stanford University.

Designing for Deeper Learning

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