Assessing the Guiding Principles

Educators develop performance assessments
Maine educators developed performance assessments at a workshop at Husson University.

As part of its work to support schools in their awarding of proficiency-based diplomas, the Maine DOE is developing sample performance assessments of Maine’s Guiding Principles. The goal of this work is to create a repository of performance assessments that provide student demonstrations of proficiency across a variety of content areas.

Districts will be able to use and edit these assessments as they see fit. No school district is required to use these assessments, but all shall have access to it. This work meets the requirements of the Legislature for the Maine DOE to develop standards, assessment criteria and assessments of the Guiding Principles as we move toward a proficiency-based diploma by 2018.

As noted in the Glossary of Terms Related to Proficiency-Based Learning, performance assessments measure a student’s ability to transfer knowledge and apply complex skills in an authentic environment. A wide spectrum of activities may qualify as performance assessments. At the simpler end of the spectrum, a physical education teacher may assess a student’s ability to cross-country ski by watching the student actually perform the activity (rather than taking a test on it). At the more complex end of the spectrum, a high school may require a student to engage in a months-long senior capstone with external mentors, addressing multiple standards across content areas.

This yearlong project to develop performance assessments began in September. Curriculum leaders from 35 districts gathered with Maine DOE staff and representatives from higher education to frame the work for 2013-14. The State is using the Quality Performance Assessment model as the framework for Maine’s performance assessment development process. The educators involved generated the initial draft performance assessment tasks across all content areas.

This work will continue through the 2013-14 school year. The assessments will be vetted in early December and field-tested in January. In March, participants plan to come together to look at student work and revise the assessments. Finalized assessments will be posted on the Maine DOE website.