Publications & Resources

American Students’ Perspectives on Alternative Assessment: Do They Know It’s Different?

Jul 1997

Joan L. Herman, Davina C. D. Klein, and Sara T. Wakai

This study used the 1993 California Learning Assessment System (CLAS) Middle Grades Mathematics Performance Assessment as a platform to examine alternative assessment in actual practice in the U.S. Reported here is information gathered using the CLAS regarding student attitudes and approaches toward this new type of assessment. At issue is whether students find alternative assessments to be more motivating and interesting than traditional types of tests, and whether they appreciate the difference between traditional and alternative tasks. Data were collected in 13 schools across the state of California, involving more than 800 students. Instrumentation used in data collection included student surveys and in-depth student retrospective interviews. Findings suggest that students do indeed understand the differences in approaches necessitated by novel open-ended tasks versus more familiar multiple-choice tasks. In addition, student attitudes toward these two types of tasks are discussed in detail.

Herman, J. L., Klein, D. C. D., & Wakai, S. T. (1997). American students’ perspectives on alternative assessment: Do they know it’s different? (CSE Report 439). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).