Authentic Assessment Toolbox
created by Jon Mueller

What is Authentic Assessment? Why Do It? How Do You Do It?











How Do You Create Authentic Assessments?

Authentic Assessment: Students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills

  Fortunately, you do not have to develop an authentic assessment from scratch.  You may already be using authentic tasks in your classroom.  Or, you may already have the standards written, the first and most important step in the process. Perhaps you have a task but need to more clearly articulate the criteria for evaluating student performance on the task. Or, you may just want to develop a rubric for the task. Wherever you are in the process, you can use the information on this page (and the ones that follow it) to help you through the steps of creating authentic assessments. If at any time the terminology is confusing, click a link to that concept or go to the glossary.

I tend to think of authentic assessment development in terms of four questions to be asked. Those questions are captured in the following graphic:

Questions to Ask:

1) What should students know and be able to do?
This list of knowledge and skills becomes your . . .


2) What indicates students have met these standards?
To determine if students have met these standards, you
will design or select relevant . . .


3) What does good performance on this task look like?
To determine if students have performed well on the task,
you will identify and look for characteristics of good
performance called . . .


4) How well did the students perform?
To discriminate among student performance
across criteria, you will create a . . .


5) How well should most students perform?
The minimum level at which you would want most students to perform is your ...

6) What do students need to improve upon?
Information from the rubric will give students feedback and allow you to ...




Summary of Steps

  1. Identify your standards for your students.
  2. For a particular standard or set of standards, develop a task your students could perform that would indicate that they have met these standards.
  3. Identify the characteristics of good performance on that task, the criteria, that, if present in your students’ work, will indicate that they have performed well on the task, i.e., they have met the standards.
  4. For each criterion, identify two or more levels of performance along which students can perform which will sufficiently discriminate among student performance for that criterion. The combination of the criteria and the levels of performance for each criterion will be your rubric for that task (assessment).

Now, I will guide you through each these four steps for creating an authentic assessment in more detail.

Step 1: Identify the Standards

Step 2: Select an Authentic Task

Step 3: Identify the Criteria for the Task

Step 4: Create the Rubric




Home | What is it? | Why do it? | How do you do it? | Standards | Tasks | Rubrics| Examples | Glossary

Copyright 2014, Jon Mueller. Professor of Psychology, North Central College, Naperville, IL. Comments, questions or suggestions about this website should be sent to the author, Jon Mueller, at