Educational assessment is essential to instructional accountability directly relating to learners’ meeting their academic goals. While assessment tools come in different varieties it is the application of authentic assessment techniques where the student engages in learner centered tasks, develops critical thinking, along with both formative and summative applications for gauging the what the student knows, understands, and where gaps in the intended outcome of the curriculum exists thus allowing for differentiation applied to the instruction. The research of the following discusses the definition of authentic assessment according to the best practices of its application. In particular, the teacher portfolio authentic assessment shows the advantages of it as a tool that engages the student in a long-term approach to understanding his/her strengths and weaknesses academically and allows planning for future goals that create a lifelong learning value.

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Defining Authentic Assessment

No matter the academic level or the fields of study defining authentic assessment is just another term for learner performance-based assessment. This is aligned to students more actively involved in the learning tasks and process. Typically, measuring learners’ aptitude connect to various activities and settings. Mitchel et al (2006), “Teaching and assessing students’ skill performance in a more realistic learning environment allows students to become more proficient in skill acquisition and helps them to experience a greater level of success and enjoyment (cited in Oh, 2014, p. 36).”

One of the driving factors in students’ academic development holds increased authentic assessment tasks enable promoting instructional improvement underpinning both development and implementation of learner performance assessment. Those advocating performance assessments continue arguing these provide teachers with signals alerting for the need to add more authentic tasks and complex skills as part of their instruction. Such logic finds similarities in perspective that encourages more formative assessment as the type of assessment embedded within given learning activities (Faxon-Mills, Hamilton, Rudnick, & Stecher, 2013).

These are directly linked according to Perie, Marion, and Gong (2009) to instructional context of the classroom in use today (cited in Faxon-Mills et al, 2013, p. 24). Educational professionals advocating use of formative assessment contend that building assessment directly into instruction then positions the information not only more immediately actionable but it also provides teachers with insights for directly incorporating can incorporate directly into it into the instructional strategy (Faxon-Mills et al, 2013).

Generally Accomplished Goals Using Authentic Assessment
Authentic assessment generally accomplishes emphasizing what students know. This type of accountability of the instructions requires that learners develop academic responses to the learning material instead of selecting from options provided them. The fundamental characteristic of authentic assessment is its ability for directly evaluating holistic learning project outcomes. This also includes the summative collection of student work samples during the instructional process. In this manner there is the intentional means for providing both the student and parents a clear criteria of the instructional learning assessment in relation to achieving the desired learning goals (Indiana Dept. of Education, 2011).

Further, the authentic assessment process engenders a higher order of thinking among the learners while it also allows for identifying any multiple human judgments among the learners’ responses to the learning material in the classroom learning environment. The authentic assessment incorporates instructing learners in evaluating their own work according to specific guidelines included in the instructional process. The framework design of the authentic assessment process clearly allows an inclusionary perspective that considers the diversity of learning styles among the group of students. This is also aligned to the 21st century reality of the diversity of demographics describing students that include cultural and educational backgrounds, their language proficiencies, and aptitude of grade level (Indiana Dept. of Education, 2011.

Examples of Authentic Assessments
A variety of assessment techniques are applicable to the authentic assessment process. There are three common denominators that frame an authentic assessment: a) engage learners in tasks requiring extensive interaction for complex performance measurement, b) directly measures the learner’s skills relating to long-term instructional outcomes according to meeting academic goals, and c) assessment of the processes incorporated in producing the desired learner response. Therefore, authentic assessment is often defined by applying it to what is not evident in learning assessment outcomes (Powers & Gamble, 2009). The varieties of authentic assessments make them adaptable to different situations since once size does not fit all (Indiana Dept. of Education, 2011). This brings into focus the value of using the teacher portfolio as an authentic assessment of learners’ individually.

Teacher Portfolios
The synonyms applied to defining examples of authentic assessment include teacher portfolios. According to the Missouri Primary and Secondary Department of Education (2014), literature shows research outcomes indicating learners at ever academic level view assessment as a process “done” to them by the teacher where they have no control over the outcomes. Typically, only the letter grade or the correctly recorded percentage they receive. has their attention or knowledge about the assessment process.

The use of teacher portfolios as an effective authentic assessment tool allows bridging any gap in student understanding they indeed have an invaluable part in the accountability of their learning. The portfolio is a proactive tool providing both the teacher and the learner the means for directly interacting in the process for students’ developing as well as gaining understanding about the designated criteria that constitutes good academic work. Using critical thinking and self-reflection thus enables learners’ applying this criteria, to their individual as well as group learning task outcomes (Missouri Primary and Secondary Department of Education, 2014).

Using teacher portfolios regularly provides students to examine the outcome of their learning tasks in evaluating the success, failure, and the where room for improvement exists. In this manner the learners’ have the direct opportunity for setting future goals where they assess their strengths and room for improvement in every category and field of study. This is a clear example of how the final product, the evaluation, or the grade is not the definitive of learning but rather how ongoing development of the students’ metacognitive skills provides them the means for reflection on their academic work. Doing so establishes the framework of their own adjustments to the learning process within the classroom environment but as importantly for lifelong learning tools they take beyond the academic experience (Missouri Primary and Secondary Dept. of Education, 2014).

Developing the Student Portfolio
Using the portfolio process as an authentic assessment tool again is a The Portfolio continuous activity allowing capturing each learner’s rich array of what they have learned and know, as well as what they can do. The portfolio involves collecting both realistic and relevant contexts that communicates to learners as well as others what is a part of the valued learning activity while it portrays the methods of achieving the accomplished work. Further, the portfolio allows the entries for integration with ongoing instruction. A clear understanding of this must be confirmed between the teacher and student before beginning (Missouri Primary and Secondary Dept. of Education, 2014).

As an authentic assessment tool, educations approach to portfolio development may vary but the fundamental framework of an effective portfolio adheres to engaging the student as an active participant in constructing the evidence of his or her academic journey. This directly means selecting, organizing as well as reflecting on specific items that clearly show Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) as identified in the essential or core curriculum. The selected items in the portfolio showcase the student’s knowledge and skill acquisition as part of collaboration and their attitude along with their performance-based learning experiences. This is composed of the learning task work samples stretching over a specifically designated time frame representative of the variety of assessment tools applied to the accountability of the instruction according to the learning outcomes. The portfolio includes student reflection in the form of self-assessments of the samples of their completed work (Missouri Primary and Secondary Dept. of Education, 2014).

The above research, review, and reflection successfully verified that no matter the academic level or the fields of study defining authentic assessment shows it is about verifying the achievement of learner performance-based performance. The above successfully showed how the teacher portfolio as an especially effective authentic assessment tool culminates with integrating the other authentic assessment processes into developing the portfolio as an important aspect of instruction and learning outcomes review and provides the means for students learning their own efficacy in setting and attaining their academic goals.

  • Faxon-Mills, S., Hamilton, L. S., Rudnick, M., & Stecher, B. M. (2013). New Assessments, Better Instruction? Designing Assessment Systems to Promote Instructional Improvement. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.
  • Indiana Department of Education. (2011). Authentic Assessment. Retrieved from
  • Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. (2014). Guidance for Using Student Portfolios in Educator Evaluation. Retrieved from https://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/Portfolio-Handbook.pdf
  • Oh, H. (2014). Instructional and Assessment Strategies in Authentic Settings. JOPERD–The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 85(1), 36.
  • Powers, K., & Gamble, B. (2009). Authentic Assessment. Retrieved from