Not Your Average Test Day

It is not uncommon for students to become anxious and dread a test day. How, then, can teachers help lessen this anxiety while still gathering evidence of student learning? The challenge in a science class is that skills such as analysis, measurement, and the use of equipment may not be measured best with traditional assessments such as paper and pencil tests. When assessing the application of knowledge to recognize scientific skills, performance assessments are an excellent alternative.

In Ms. Mobley’s second-grade science class, students had the unique opportunity to demonstrate their learning in an alternative, more-relevant way. Excited students moved from station to station around the classroom adding marbles to a graduated cylinder that was filled with colored water to measure displacement, generated qualitative and quantitative descriptions of stuffed animals, took the mass of various objects using a triple beam balance, and took the measurement of coins, while recording their answers after each station. Students were engaged, eager to demonstrate their learning. Ms. Mobley's approach provided a better evaluation of what students knew and were able to do. As students had questions, she and her co-teacher moved about the room providing prompts as needed or clarifying what was expected at each station.

This form of alternative assessment promoted integration of written as well as performance measures, encouraged divergent thinking and problem solving, and ultimately enhanced the development of meaningful scientific skills.


About the Author

Kimberly Miller is passionate about teaching and delights in training teachers to be even more effective and inspiring in the classroom. She is a devoted mother of three, a lover of God’s creation, and embraces her inner Science diva!


About Trinity Christian School

Pursuing Excellence for Mind and Heart

K-12 Independent Christian School in Northern Virginia

Located just over 20 miles southwest from Washington, D.C., 10 miles south of Route 66 in Fairfax, and 10 miles west of the Capital Beltway

Educating students to the glory of God by pursuing excellence for mind and heart since 1987



A 2019 National Blue Ribbon School