Sample Performance Tasks



Level 1: Grades K-2

Sample Performance Task

Your teacher has taken your class through a walking tour of the neighborhood to look at the shapes of buildings, people and cars. You have been asked to draw a picture of your neighborhood to include what you have seen. However, you can not use any circles, squares, triangles or rectangles in your drawing. What are some ways you might draw a scene without the shapes listed? What makes this assignment a challenge? What can you explain about shapes and how they are used in our lives?

Later, go back and add the shapes you need to complete your picture. Be sure you can describe the shapes and how they are alike or different.

You will be assessed on your ability to understand the importance of shapes in our world, your ability to identify, describe and compare shapes, your ability to solve a problem and your ability to communicate effectively in a variety of ways.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Problem Solving
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Effective Communicator
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) I. Understands mathematics as a problem solving process

V. Understands and applies the concept of geometry.

Key Learnings 3. Develops and applies strategies to solve a variety of problems

1. Identifies, describes, compares and classifies geometric figures.

SOURCE: Assessing Student Outcomes: Performance Assessment Using the Dimensions of Learning Model. McRel, 1993. See page 61



Level 2: Grades 3-5

Sample Performance Task

Your classroom has been studying graphs, bar graphs, line graphs, circle graphs, etc. During the lesson the teacher shared graphs that demonstrated that biking is a dangerous activity. These conclusions do not support research you have seen. As chairperson of the Biking Club you analyze the graphs and note that sometimes the graphing changes the way the information will be interpreted. How would you explain to the teacher and students how graphing practices can distort information and lead to incorrect conclusions? What other examples of this can you find from the newspaper, TV, or other sources? How might you take the graphs on biking and change the graphing process to support your point of view and research that biking is not a dangerous activity?

You will be assessed on your ability to construct, read and interpret graphs, your ability to draw conclusions, your ability to construct support for your point of view and your ability to communicate effectively in a variety of ways.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Constructing Support
  • Decision Making
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Effective Communicator
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) VII. Understands and applies the concept of statistics and probability.

X. Understands mathematical reasoning.

Key Learnings 2. Constructs, reads and interprets tables, charts and graphs.

1. Draws logical conclusions about mathematics.

SOURCE: : Adapted from Maine’s Curriculum Framework for Mathematics and Science, 1996



Level 3: Grades 6-8

Sample Performance Task

Which box of cereal does have the most raisins? You and a partner will examine the contents of major name brand cereals and a generic brand to make a final recommendation as to which brand or brands have the most raisins. What are some estimation strategies you might use to save you the trouble of counting through boxes of cereal? Which ones seem to work better for you and your partner and why? Share your findings by showing your work as fractions, percents and decimals. Be sure you and your partner can explain the relationships among fractions, percents and decimals.

You will be assessed on your ability to work collaboratively with a peer, your ability to apply estimation strategies, your ability to solve problems, and your ability to understand the relationship among fractions, decimals, and percents.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Problem Solving
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Collaborative Worker
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) II. Understands and applies concepts of estimation.

III. Understands and applies number systems, number sense and number relations.

Key Learnings 4. Applies estimation in working with quantities, measurement, computation and problem solving.

9. Extends number sense to include the relationship among fractions, percents and decimals.

SOURCE: Adapted from Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. NCTM, 1989



Level 3: Grades 6-8

Sample Performance Task

Every week supermarkets spend lots of money on advertisements, with every supermarket claiming to have the lowest prices. Study the prices in recent ads from several supermarkets, Determine if any supermarket tends to have lower prices on some items and higher prices on others. Be careful to note the sizes and quantities (ounces, grams, pounds,) connected with the costs.

After you have made this determination, notice how the advertisements are laid out and how the prices are displayed in the ads. Which items are featured? How are prices quoted differently in the ads? How does each supermarket go about making their products look less expensive?

Based on all of this analysis, come to at least two conclusions about the people who produce the advertisements for supermarkets and what they must think that people want or will believe. Communicate your analysis clearly using a variety of ways.

Support each of your conclusions with evidence from the ads you examined. You must include evidence gained from your computations involving the prices and quantities in the ads.

You will be assessed on your ability to accurately compute prices and quantities, your ability to use supported induction thinking, and your ability to communicate clearly using a variety of ways.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Supported Induction
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Effective Communicator
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) I. Understands mathematics as a problem solving process.

IV. Understands and demonstrates computation skills.

Key Learnings 3. Uses a variety of strategies to solve problems with an emphasis on multi-step and non-routine problems

1. Uses addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to solve problems with rational numbers

SOURCE: Assessing Student Outcomes: Performance Assessment Using the Dimensions of Learning Model. McRel, 1993.



Level 4: Grades 9-12

Sample Performance Task

Local highways are experiencing a marked increase in traffic by cars, busses, and trucks alike. As a member of the Ecology Club you want to be informed on future decisions about new road construction or highway expansions. Future increases are linked to projected gas prices, inflation and unemployment levels. Using algebraic equations, show potential increases of traffic based on the variables identified. Base your projections on data you collect from research and show projections for cars, busses, and trucks in addition to traffic as a whole.
What steps will you take to solve this assignment? How does the use of algebraic equations help to solve problems and communicate information? Be sure you can explain your use of algebraic symbols and procedures.

You will be assessed on your ability to solve problems using algebraic equations, your ability to solve problems, your ability to clarify your thinking about mathematics and your ability to communicate effectively in a variety of ways.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Problem Solving
  • Investigation
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Effective Communicator
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) VIII. Understands and applies the concepts and procedures of algebra.

XI. Communicates mathematically.

Key Learnings 3. Translates real world problems into the language of algebra.

1. Clarifies their thinking about mathematical ideas and situations.

SOURCE: Paul MacDowell, Portland Public Schools