Wayfinder Learning Lab

"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.

Authenticity in assessment, (re-)defined and explained


For a while I’ve been banging the drum of the importance of definitions and I was reminded of its importance at the weekend as I took part in the #GAFESummit at CA and the whole-school PD session on Learning Principles. We have so much language to use in the educational context that it can get confusing as terms get popular and overlap. Sometimes you get half-way through a conversation with someone (usually from another context) before realising that you’re both using the same word in different ways.

We need to define – and carefully use – terms on an institutional (or wider) level.

What is inquiry?

What does authentic really mean? How is it different to ‘real-world’ or ‘hands-on’?

What do we really mean when we say ‘meaningful’ or ‘engagement’?

Do we understand these terms in the context of someone else’s discipline?


Read on as Grant Wiggins defines ‘authentic’ in the way that we should all understand it. It is important.

Granted, and...

What is “authentic assessment”?

Almost 25 years ago, I wrote a widely-read and discussed paper that was entitled: “A True Test: Toward More Authentic and Equitable Assessment” that was in the Phi Delta Kappan. Download it here: Wiggins.atruetest.kappan89 I believe the phrase was my coining, made when I worked with Ted Sizer at the Coalition of Essential Schools, as a way of describing “true” tests as opposed to merely academic and unrealistic school tests. I first used the phrase in print in an article for Educational Leadership entitled “Teaching to the (Authentic) Test” in the April 1989 issue. (My colleague from the Advisory Board of the Coalition of Essential Schools, Fred Newmann, was the first to use the phrase in a book, a pamphlet for NASSP in 1988 entitled Beyond standardized testing: Assessing authentic academic achievement in secondary schools. His work in the Chicago public schools provides significant findings…

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Author: Stephen

International Educator: China via Japan, Indonesia & the UK. Director of Innovation in Learning & Teaching. Science educator. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer. MA International Education. Experienced Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator. Interested in curriculum, pedagogy, purposeful EdTech and global competence. Find out more: https://sjtylr.net/about. Science site: http://i-biology.net.

2 thoughts on “Authenticity in assessment, (re-)defined and explained

  1. Pingback: A pragmatic approach to inquiry: my article in IS magazine | i-Biology | Reflections

  2. Pingback: Inquiry vs Enquiry | Ripples & Reflections

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