A challenging Social Studies project excites Sanborn Regional High School freshmen

As New Hampshire school districts remodel themselves for our information-based world, many are replacing old-style tests with “performance assessments.”  A performance assessment (or task) is a multistep assignment with clear expectations for results. It allows teachers to determine how well a student applies academic knowledge and complex skills to a real world problem, and produce an original product using real-world skills like problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Global Studies teacher Mark Giuliucci gave his freshmen an important assignment.  It was a “performance assessment” that asked students to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty.  Mark said,

Performance assessments like this have real-world applications. Students need to sort through vast amounts of information, make hard decisions, negotiate, adapt on the fly and assess their own progress. It’s far more rigorous than any paper test could ever be.

“Learning is not about what students can cram into their short-term memories. I’m interested in what they can do with information.  How can they interpret it, analyze it, sort it, create with it?”

His students responded enthusiastically:

Chase Brisson: “Here’s what I did – and here’s why I did it.”

“It’s just like when you graduate and are doing a project for your boss. You’re going to have to show him, “Here’s what I did – and here’s why I did it.” Chase Brisson, Freshman, Sanborn Regional High School

Hailey Simes: “In a performance assessment, I can show what I know.”

“On a paper test, you just memorize and give it back. In a performance assessment, I can show what I know.  You really have to know what you’re talking about. We actually had to debate the issue from different points of view.  You see how hard it is to solve […]

Jazmin Alvarado: “You have to know the information and use it on the spot.”

“We should do more projects like this. I like that you can prepare, but you never really know exactly what’s going to happen. You have to know the information and use it on the spot.” Jazmin Alvarado, Freshman, Sanborn Regional High School

Megan Welch: “when you’re doing a performance assessment, you’re always learning”

“Standardized tests don’t really show people what I know, but we got really passionate about the performance assessment. You understand about both sides of the issue – get a deeper understanding of what’s going on.  You don’t learn while you’re taking the test but when you’re doing a performance assessment, you’re always […]

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