The Common Core and Their “Not-So-Common” Performance Tasks

Last week, the Edcite teacher team led a professional development session at Katherine Smith Elementary School about the Common Core Performance Tasks. This topic was clearly a timely one for educators in California, since teachers from four different schools from the Evergreen School District attended our session. After hearing how appreciative teachers were to finally explore this new exam component, we realized that this information is too valuable to keep to ourselves. So we decided to share the main questions and answers we covered in our PD session below:

1. What are the SmarterBalanced performance tasks?

A performance task is a multi-stage assessment, and will usually require a few days of class time. It will test student understanding of a set of standards, rather than a single standard. Most importantly, and this is our favorite part, the “task” emulates a situation that students will see in real life. For example, a 4th grade math performance task might ask students to calculate the appropriate size and depth of a garden plot for tulip bulbs. A 6th grade performance task might ask students to figure out the area, size, and volume of the different shapes they would uncover while unfolding a box. A high school science performance task might ask students to analyze various texts on vaccinations and synthesize the information into an argumentative essay.

IMG_01512. Why make your performance tasks digital?

Though performance tasks might not be entirely new to your classroom, having your students complete these multi-stage assessments online likely will be. And though it might seem like a lot of work to take create a digital version of your paper-and-pencil task, we think it’s well worth your time. Online performance tasks truly attain the “real-life” quality that these tests hope to achieve. For example, a task might require students to type an essay or draw a sketch online. Though this might be unfamiliar to your students now, they are very likely to be requirements of a college-level course or a professional project they encounter in the future. Why not have students gain these skills from a young age? In addition, many performance tasks require students to analyze multimedia, such as this chemistry performance task where students answer questions based on a YouTube video. Having students complete the task online will enable them to watch (and re-watch!) these videos at their own pace.

3. Why use Edcite for this task?

Edcite is the perfect site to host your digital performance tasks! And here’s why. First and foremost, Edcite is the only free platform to use the SmarterBalanced question types, such as “drag and drop” or “rearrange text”. By practicing with Edcite assignments, students will simultaneously be mastering Common Core standards while preparing for the SmarterBalanced end of year exam. Second, Edcite offers automated grading for every non-essay or non-free response question. This frees up your timIMG_0150e so you can focus on one or two questions–questions where students are defending their responses–rather than manually grading each individual response. Edcite also has an assignments library where you can share performance tasks with other teachers. We currently have 20 performance tasks posted on our site, and we know this number will only continue to grow! Better yet, if you want to changean existing performance task (to delete a question, or add more basic questions to scaffold your students up to the higher performance-task level), Edcite allows you to customize any assignment you use. Lastly, we have a questions library with over 5,000 questions that you can use to build your own performance task! For instance, I recently created a performance task for kindergarteners on comparing the size and quantity of various objects by pulling questions together from the questions library.

We hope that this post has given you some helpful ideas for how to prepare your students for the performance task section of the exam. Practice makes perfect, so have your students start practicing on Edcite today! And if you have any more questions about the performance tasks in general, feel free to ask in the comments or email a member of our team. Good luck!


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