Performance Task Design

Develop authentic and rigorous performance-based tasks

When secondary teachers set out to design meaningful learning experiences, they need models that allow them to attend to the most important concepts in their discipline, engage students in exciting and authentic work, and focus the majority of student learning time on key cognitive skills. In designing practical and authentic performance tasks, teachers ask:

  • What specific discipline-based knowledge will students need to succeed in the task?
  • What cognitive skills will students apply to use the knowledge from the standard in some meaningful way (e.g., writing, analysis, or argumentation)?
  • What context provides meaning to the performance? This can consist of real-world situations, authentic audiences, themes, or essential questions.
  • What authentic product or performance will allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill to a real-world audience?


Half- to 2-day workshops for teachers are available. The focus may be developing interdisciplinary tasks for teams of two to five teachers, or authentic tasks within a single course. This work can also be incorporated into long-term consulting.


Teachers develop an integrated concept for a quality task and gain the skills and concepts needed to create related lessons, materials, scoring guides, and performances. Depending on the length of the workshop, these elements may be completed within the workshop. Additional elements may include collegial review of tasks and resulting student work.