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NAEP - Making Sure the Assessment is Scored Fairly

Development Strategies

Arts Tasks in This Report

Making sure the assessment is scored fairly

Especially in the case of the arts, there can be a very wide range of opinions about what makes a work of art and many approaches to teaching young people how to respond to and create art. The arts educators and artists who scored students’ responses to the NAEP arts assessment were trained to apply scoring criteria to student responses fairly in spite of this variation in opinion and approach. This was already a big challenge. The challenge was further complicated because unlike classroom teachers, who can observe their students over time, the people who score NAEP student responses must base their decisions on single pieces of student art or single performances.

To ensure fair scoring, assessment developers thought ahead about how student responses would be scored. Clear problems for students to solve, with clear and concrete criteria to score their solutions to those problems, enable fair scoring. Not only must students know what is being asked of them, but raters must be able to score student responses on the basis of some concrete characteristics common to all student responses.

Does this needlessly stifle student creativity in arts assessment? Simply offering students a set of drawing tools and asking them to use their imaginations to create a self-portrait might give students a lot of creative license. But if students are not given some idea of what knowledge and skills their self-portraits should show, widely varying notions of artistic talent become the only basis for considering one self-portrait better than another.

BACK TO: Strategy 5: Encourage Students to Be Creative

Last updated 7 March 2003 (HM)