In my 12th grade English class we were assigned a long-term project as a form of Performance Assessment.
Our task was to collect works of writing, no matter the type, from all of our high school years. Once we had collected these, we put them together in a portfolio which we presented to our class. The goal of the project was two-fold. First we were to display our growth as writers throughout our years of high school. The second goal was to display an array of writing styles and our grasp of them. From short stories, poetry, book reports and essays, we as seniors were instructed to compile as many examples of our best work as possible.
We were graded on a rubric. The criteria for the grading scale was made availible to us prior to completing the assignment.
In my opinion long-term projects such as this can act as excellent indicators of learning and growth. Too often in Education we get caught up in what we, as teachers think is the most important content that students will take out of our classes. What gets lost far too frequently is how what a student is learning will translate to the real world. The essential question that needs to be asked is, what skills can I equip a young person with for their future, while at the same time, imparting on them the content knowledge that is also critical for graduation. These types of performance assessment translate to real world applications far easier than being able to answer a multiple choice test.
Having said that, performance assessments such as long-term projects are not applicable to all content areas or even all units within a content area. My goal as a teacher is going to be to find a balance between traditional assessments and authentic ones.