Sample Performance Tasks



Level 1: Grades K-2

Sample Performance Task

Your school is having "An Evening of Learning" when parents come to school to see some of the things you are learning. You have decided to tell about what you have learned about the sun, the Earth, rotation and revolution in science. What are some of the ways you could tell this information using the arts? Which areas of the arts would you like to try and why? What materials, tools, instruments or techniques would you use to share what you have learned in science? How do these things relate or reinforce what you have learned?

You will be assessed on your ability to use the visual and performing arts to share what you have learned in science, your ability to select and use materials, tools, instruments and techniques to show what you have learned and your ability to explain how the visual and/or performing arts are connected to your topic.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Decision Making
  • Abstracting
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Quality Producer
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) I. Creates and performs in the visual and/or performing arts.

III. Reflects on the quality, aesthetics and value of one’s own and other’s work.

Key Learnings 2. Selects materials, tools, instrument and techniques to achieve desired effects.

1. Knows personal preferences for art forms and styles.

SOURCE: Educational Planning, Portland Public Schools



Level 1: Grades K-2

Sample Performance Task

Imagine a world without art, music, drama or dance. Describe what it would be like to live in such a world. Identify the specific roles that the arts play and how these roles would change in a world without art. Share your findings with others, being sure you can provide examples to support your point of view. Now consider your classroom or school. In what ways are the arts missing or not as strong as they should be? Develop a plan to use the arts more in your classroom or school.

You will be assessed on your ability to explain the use of arts in everyday life, your ability to explain the effects of the arts on people, and your ability to communicate in a variety of ways.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Constructing Support
  • Decison Making
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Effective Communicator
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) II. Understands how the arts relate to society, culture and history.

III. Reflects on the quality, aesthetics and value of one’s own and other’s work.

Key Learnings 3. Understands the use of the arts in everyday experiences.

2. Understands how artwork can influence and persuade.

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



Level 2: Grades 3-5

Sample Performance Task

Your teacher just told you that your eyes lie - and just when you thought "seeing is believing". However, your teacher won’t explain what she means; you have to find out using the window and art prints of Constable’s Cathedral, Sisley’s Autumn Landscape and Feininger’s Arch Tower I. What might your teacher mean when she said, "Your eyes lie?" How might you go about finding out? How are the prints similar? How are they different? Using your knowledge of the terms foreground and background, how do the artists show where objects are in relation to these terms? How do the artists try to make things look real? Why does the artist try to make things look real in these prints? How might you go about creating works of art that look real?

You will be assessed on your ability to use your senses to make sense of information and to solve problems, your ability to make conclusions based on observations, your ability to apply what you already know in art to make sense of information on perspective, 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. Creates and/or performs in the visual/performing arts.

III. Reflects on the quality, aesthetics and value of one’s own and other’s work.

Key Learnings 2. Applies previously learned principles to perform, create, revise and/or refine works.

1. Understands how the senses are used in daily life to make choices.

SOURCE: Adapted from Designing Assessment in Art. National Art Education Association, 1994



Level 3: Grades 6-8

Sample Performance Task

It’s one of those beautiful spring days with a cool breeze off the ocean. You’re in the Old Port when you notice the variety of buildings all around you. Some are ornate, some simple, some seem to have symmetry, others are a jumble of styles. You begin to wonder why this is so. Fortunately, the library is just up the street! What are some of the architectural styles you learn about? Why were they created? What were some of the influences that affected development of styles, such as climate or technology? What influences are affecting building design today? What suggestions might you make to improve styles being used today? What style might you use or invent to design a new building in Portland?

You will be assessed on your ability to identify and describe the concepts and principles used in the arts and how they are used in other areas, your ability to explain how time and location affect building design, your ability to speculate on modern trends and your ability to design a new building for the city.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Investigation
  • Invention
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Quality Producer
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) I. Creates and performs in the visual and/or performing arts.

II. Understands how the arts relate to society, culture and history.

Key Learnings 6. Knows how various concepts and principles are used in the arts and disciplines outside of the arts (e.g. balance, shape patterns).

2. Understands how the factors of time and place (e.g. climate, resources, ideas and technology influence the visual and performing arts.

SOURCE: Educational Planning, Portland Public Schools



Level 4: Grades 9-12

Sample Performance Task

You have just come back from Washington, D.C. where you visited the local museums, the Aids Quilt display on the Mall, and the Vietnam War Memorial. You marvel at how art was able to connect and unite people from a wide range of backgrounds, allowing them to set aside differences and focus on a common theme.
Back at school you notice the many groups within school and how they do not always communicate or get along. You get an idea: -Why not use the arts to show that people are united while still being unique? How might you go about organizing an event such as this? What art forms might work better than others? What criteria will you set up to make sure your demonstrations or exhibits of student art show the theme of unity and uniqueness of individuals? How will you promote the show?

You will be assessed on your ability to demonstrate how the arts can be a bridge across cultural and social groups, your ability to set and meet criteria, and your ability to create a work of art.

This sample performance task addresses the following:

Complex Thinking Standards
  • Problem Solving
  • Invention
Learner Expectation(s)
  • Quality Producer
  • Knowledgeable Person (see content standard)
  • Versatile Thinker (see complex thinking standard)
K-12 Content Standard(s) I. Creates and performs in the visual and/or performing arts.

II. Understands how the arts relate to society, culture and history.

Key Learnings 3. Publicly explains, displays and demonstrates one’s visual and/or performing piece.

3. Understands relationships among works of art across time and among cultural and social groups

SOURCE: Paul MacDowell, Portland Public Schools