Alternative Forms of Assessment

Alternative assessment can include any type of assessment that students create a response to a question rather than choose a response from a given list (e.g., multiple-choice, true/false, or matching). Alternative assessments can include short answer questions, essays, performances, oral presentations, demonstrations, exhibitions, and portfolios.

The Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM l989, p. l9l).make the following general recommendations for changing student assessment:

Increased Attention Decreased Attention
  • Assessing what students know and how they think
  • Having assessment be an integral part of teaching
  • Focusing on a broad range or mathematical tasks and taking a holistic view of mathematics
  • Developing problem situations that require the application of a number of mathematical ideas
  • Using multiple assessment techniques, including written, oral, and demonstration formats
  • Using calculators, computers, and manipulatives in assessment
  • Assessing what students do not know about mathematics
  • Having assessment to be simply counting correct answers on tests for the sole purpose of assigning grades
  • Focusing on a large number of specific and isolated skills
  • Using exercises or word problems requiring only one or two skills
  • Using only written tests
  • Excluding calculators, computers, and manipulatives from the assessment process
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