Alternative Assessments – Student voice and choice

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To be perfectly honest, I am not a huge fan of standardized or paper and pencil tests, as many other educators can most likely identify with. As educators, we are supposed to differentiate instruction based on student needs and bring in technology to help students develop creativity, problem-solving, and 21st century learning skills. A one-size-fits-all test doesn’t help students achieve these goals and is not an accurate way to measure a student’s understanding of a concept.

One way to circumvent traditional paper and pencil tests is to do alternative assessments that give students more voice and choice. In my class, my 4th graders began doing alternative assessments for math. Instead of assigning the end of the chapter unit test, I tasked my students to come up with original examples and create something that showed their understanding of the concept and standard that we had just covered. Students could use technology tools such as Google tools and apps, Microsoft Sway, Buncee, Powtoons or other tools that we had used in class. Or they could create examples with non digital, hands-on tools and methods.

Students had to prove why they deserved a certain grade based on their examples, creativity, and depth of explaining the concept. The project takes longer than a traditional test that can be administered in a class period. However, students gained so much more from doing alternative assessments and loved undertaking the project. It did not seem like a test to them, but a chance for them to creatively demonstrate all that they had learned on a specific topic.

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