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feature SKILLS

SHOWCASING STUDENT SKILLS

Performance-based assessment expands to include eight program areas in Spring 2014 by Leanne Long

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n the spring of 2013, performance-based assessments (PBAs) were used in four career pathways: Early Childhood Education, Polymer Science, Simulation and Animation Design, and Teacher Academy. Typically, Year 1 and Year 2 career and technical education (CTE) students take a computer-based assessment at the end of each year to measure their knowledge and skills in the programs. However, due to the unique nature of many Year 2 CTE programs, which mostly employ hands-on learning experiences, capturing student abilities on a multiple-choice test can prove difficult, according to Ashley Brown, a project manager at the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU). PBA is designed to measure students’ mastery of the competencies in their curricula through work-based scenarios, providing instructors and outside evaluators a unique opportunity to see how students would perform in the real world, better tying to the actual coursework Year 2 CTE students complete. Additionally, each career pathway has three external evaluators, who are employed in an appropriate industry or possess background knowledge in the tested content area or a related field (with at least three years of experience), so PBA also gives students an opportunity to show employers in their area what they have learned. Linda Giles, counselor at Newton County Career and Technical Center, said, “Performance-based assessment allowed our Early Childhood completers an opportunity to showcase the knowledge and skills they have mastered over their two-year program. PBA provided the students with a hands-on assessment, which measured their ability to take what they have learned in class and apply it to a structured scenario.” 20

CONNECTIONS Spring 2014

The RCU provided test data that compared Year 1 multiplechoice test scores of each program and Year 2 PBA scores to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) for each of the four areas tested in 2013. The data showed that students were better able to demonstrate their skills in each of the four PBA tested career pathways than they had on the multiple-choice test. Expanding PBA to encompass all career pathways will require improvements for scalability statewide. Brown said, “I learned that assessing this way can be complicated, and it is important to have solid materials and directions to help it all go smoothly. I also learned that others around the country who are starting to assess this way are finding the same complications.” Based on survey results from the spring 2013 PBA experience, several areas of growth were identified, including finding evaluators, technological issues, and efficient use of time. Following testing in spring 2013, Brown and other RCU assessment specialists addressed these issues and revised the PBAs already in place as well as added four additional career pathways, per direction from the Mississippi Department of Education, for the April 2014 testing period. Career pathways that have been added to the PBA list include Architecture and Drafting, Digital Media Technology, Energy, and Transportation Logistics. Completers from these programs will engage in a different end-of-year assessment than the normal multiple-choice Mississippi Career Planning and Assessment System, Edition 2 (MS-CPAS2) assessment. Charish Pierce, CTE counselor at Hattiesburg High School said, “Seeing a student’s work, rather than

Connections Spring 2014  
Connections Spring 2014