area; others assess multiple content areas. The tasks may encompass group or individual activities; hands-on, observation, or reading activities; and activities that require extended written responses, limited written responses, lists, charts, graphs, diagrams, webs, and/or drawings. A few MSPAP items are released each year to educators and the public to provide a picture of what the assessment looks like and how it is scored.5

To cover this broad range of learning outcomes, Maryland uses a sampling approach whereby each student takes only one-third of the entire assessment. This means an individual student’s results do not give a complete picture of how that child is performing (although parents can obtain a copy of their child’s results from the local school system). What is gained is a program evaluation instrument that covers a much more comprehensive range of learning goals than that addressed by a traditional standardized test.

AP Studio Art

The above two examples do not provide individual student scores. The AP Studio Art portfolio assessment is an example of an assessment that is designed to certify individual student attainment over a broad range of competencies and to be closely linked to the actual instruction students have experienced (College Board, 1994). Student work products are extracted during the course of instruction, collected, and then evaluated for summative evaluation of student attainment.

AP Studio Art is just one of many Advanced Placement (AP) programs designed to give highly motivated high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses in areas such as biology, history, calculus, and English while still in high school. AP programs provide course descriptions and teaching materials, but do not require that specific textbooks, teaching techniques, or curricula be followed. Each program culminates in an exam intended to certify whether individual students have mastered material equivalent to that of an introductory college course. AP Studio Art is unique in that at the end of the year, instead of taking a written summative exam, students present a portfolio of materials selected from the work they have produced during the AP course for evaluation by a group of artists and teachers. Preparation of the portfolio requires forethought; work submitted for the various sections must meet the publicly shared criteria set forth by the AP program.

The materials presented for evaluation may have been produced in art classes or on the student’s own time and may cover a period of time longer than a single school year. Instructional goals and the criteria by which students’ performance will be evaluated are made clear and explicit. Portfolio


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