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Teacher discusses traditional and alternative/authentic assessments

LettersTeacher discusses traditional and alternative/authentic assessments

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Dear Editor,

Assessment is an ongoing process of gathering information of students’ knowledge and understanding as well as what each student can do. There are different types of assessments. However, for this piece, I will only focus on traditional and alternative/authentic assessments.

Traditional assessment refers to the testing of subject content through written documents, such as quizzes, tests or exams. It provides a snapshot of a student’s knowledge and skills, and serves as a tool to gauge the effectiveness of teaching methods. This type of assessment has produced exceptional students who have become doctors, attorneys, teachers, just to name a few.

Alternative/authentic assessment, on the other hand, refers to students being asked to perform real-world tasks. These include performing an act or task through projects, portfolios, oral presentations and so on. This type of assessment provides more accurate information on students’ learning and an opportunity for students to develop critical thinking. It provides a platform where the classroom is converted into a social arena where ideas are shared. Additionally, students can use their creativity to demonstrate what they have learned. Alternative assessment also encourages students to apply knowledge rather than memorize information.

While traditional assessment is more objective and reliable, it often neglects developmental skills such as problem solving and communicative skills. Similarly, while alternative assessment may provide more accurate information of students’ learning, this type of assessment is subjective and its reliability and validity are of concern.

One of the goals of education is to prepare the most obvious clients of instruction – students, for active citizenship. For this to be realized, learning needs to be assessed by students’ recalling information and then applying that information to real world situations. This could be achieved by using traditional and alternative assessments together.

Despite the fact that traditional and authentic assessments have their limitations, both of them have their strengths as well. Therefore, traditional and authentic assessments should not be used in isolation; rather, both assessments can be used to complement each other. Both can work together to enable educators to better understand whether each student has grasped the content or not.

Delbert Garcia, Sr.
A retired teacher

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