About the Guide

The PALS Guide will walk you through the three main areas of performance assessments (targets or standards, tasks and task design, and finally, rubrics and scoring). You will have the opportunity to learn about these elements as well as methods for adapting specific tasks for your needs. The guide also includes a glossary and a set of descriptions outlining features of good performance assessment.

Note, however, that the structure of the guide moves through the concepts of task design rather than the specific categories found in a task. The chart above illustrates how the guide moves through the three categories of a task's content (Administration Procedures, Task with Student Directions, and Rubrics). Click on the titles below to find out more about each concept.

Science content standards are broad statements that envision the concepts and processes students are expected to attain in the sciences. Standards explicate the knowledge base of a scientifcally literate populace. Targets are task-specific, curricular objectives and goal statements based on standards. Targets ground all of the decisions concerning the type of assessment, the task design, and the rubric used to score the task.

Tasks allow students to effectively create a sample product or performance we can observe and judge. They contain information about the administration procedures (e.g.task time, materials, safety concerns), written instructions to help students demonstrate mastery of the skills that will be assessed, and questions to assess student learning.

Rubrics are the guides used to score performance assessments in a reliable, fair, and valid manner. Rubrics are composed of a description of the dimensions for judging student performance, a scale of values for rating performances on each dimension, and standards of excellence for specified performance levels.

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