Kim H. Koh
Authentic tasks replicate real-world challenges and standards of performance that experts or professionals typically face in the field. The term “authentic assessment” was first coined by Grant Wiggins in K‒12 educational contexts. Authentic assessment is an effective measure of intellectual achievement or ability because it requires students to demonstrate their deep understanding, higher-order thinking, and complex problem solving through the performance of exemplary tasks. Hence authentic assessment can serve as a powerful tool for assessing students’ 21st-century competencies in the context of global educational reforms. The review begins with a detailed explanation of the concept of authentic assessment. There is a substantial body of literature focusing on the definitions of authentic assessment. However, only those that are original and relevant to educational contexts are included.. Some of the criteria for authentic assessment defined by the authors overlap with each other, but their definitions are consistent. A comparison of authentic assessment and conventional assessment reveals that different purposes are served, as evidenced by the nature of the assessment and item response format. Examples of both types of assessments are included. Three major themes are examined within authentic assessment research in educational contexts: authentic assessment in educational or school reforms, teacher professional learning and development in authentic assessment, and authentic assessment as tools or methods used in a variety of subjects or disciplines in K‒12 schooling and in higher education institutions. Among these three themes, most studies were focused on the role of authentic assessment in educational or school reforms. Future research should focus on building teachers’ capacity in authentic assessment and assessment for learning through a critical inquiry approach in school-based professional learning communities or in teacher education programs. To enable the power of authentic assessment to unfold in the classrooms of the 21st century, it is essential that teachers are not only assessment literate but also competent in designing and using authentic assessments to support student learning and mastery of the 21st-century competencies.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are part of a third wave of school reform in the United States. With accompanying tests, these standards combine calls for increased academic rigor, beginning in the 1980s, with more recent efforts to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable for learning outcomes in publicly funded schools. Origins of CCSS can be traced to the 1996 National Education Summit where the National Governors Association (NGA), philanthropic foundations, and business leaders founded Achieve to broker rigorous high school graduation requirements. In 2009, Achieve became the project manager for the construction of CCSS. In 2010, implementation began with incentives from the Obama administration and funding from the Gates Foundation.
Advocates choose among a variety of rationales: faltering American economic competitiveness, wide variability among state standards and educational outcomes, highly mobile student populations, and/or a growing income achievement gap. Critics cite federal intrusion in states’ rights, a lack of an evidentiary base, an autocratic process of CCSS production, and/or a mis-framing of problems facing public schools. With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, federal advocacy of CCSS ended officially.