Authentic Assessment at Alpine

Stem School

Do you remember taking tests back in school? You stressed, or crammed, or worried. Sometimes you felt prepared, and your satisfaction came in knowing you had earned an A. However, we didn’t think about tests much past that final grade. One of the major components of STEM is creating learning that is authentic, relevant, and meaningful for students. We do this throughout a unit of study when we provide opportunities for our students to inquire into aspects of the unit that are most interesting to them. We do this when we create multiple learning engagements for them to show what they have learned. And we do this when we create authentic opportunities for them to apply their knowledge to a real problem. 

In third grade at Alpine, students have been studying trade and money. This includes learning about opportunity costs, how we add value to an item, process or experience, and builds on their knowledge of supply and demand. For the final assessment of this unit, students are faced with a problem they must solve. They will design a party or celebration for a friend, on a $50 budget. This process will require students to understand, or develop empathy, for the friend - the “user”. They will identify, or define, the specific wants and needs of this user. Then, the ideating begins! Students brainstorm different ideas and ways of providing their friend with everything he or she needs for the party, all while on a strict budget! The math that is in this particular assessment includes several of the 3rd grade standards, and provides for differentiated assessment opportunities, depending on specific needs of some students. Some students may work only with whole numbers, while other students will be calculating tax based on the current tax rate in Longmont. Students are applying skills in math and social studies that they have learned regarding trade, money, bartering, addition and subtraction, decimals, place value, multiplication and division, and visual displays of data. Moreover, students are EXCITED for this and think it’s an “end of the unit fun activity”.  What more could you ask for in an assessment?!