CAE and New York City Department of Education Present Case Study on Innovative Periodic Performance-Based Assessment Program

Education leaders share best practices and results of initiative that measures student learning of content and higher order skills to inform instruction throughout the year

NEW YORK, July 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Council for Aid to Education, Inc. (CAE), a leader in designing innovative performance tasks for measurement and instruction of higher order skills and for subject area assessments, and the New York City Department of Education’s (NYCDOE) Office of Periodic Assessment (OPA) co-presented a case study on their partnership at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) 2023 National Conference on Student Assessment (NCSA). New York City Public Schools is the largest school district in the country, serving 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers in more than 1,800 schools.

The decade-long collaboration includes a rich portfolio of baseline, benchmark, and end-of-year performance-based assessments for New York City students in grades 3-12. CAE designs and develops performance tasks, scoring rubrics, and teacher scoring guides in subject areas including mathematics, science, English language arts, social studies, visual arts, and physical education. These periodic assessments are designed to inform instruction to better prepare students for end-of-course assessments, college and careers.

“Assessment data can offer more than just a retrospective measure of student academic performance, rather it can be a powerful tool to help educators improve student learning and skills in real time,” said CAE Chief Academic Officer Doris Zahner, Ph.D. “CAE is thrilled that New York City’s educational leaders recognize this vital role for assessment, and we are privileged to help strengthen the futures of the city’s children.”

Students may take these assessments several times throughout the school year to give teachers more information about what students know and can do. The assessment results—along with other schoolwork and classroom observations—help teachers identify where students are flourishing and where they need more help.

During the conference session “Innovative Periodic Performance-Based Assessments,” moderated by Dr. Zahner and co-presented by CAE’s Senior Director Content Design and Development Stacey Sparks, along with members from the NYCDOE Office of Periodic Assessment, teachers and school leaders learned about the alignment, structure, and scoring of these performance tasks, with an emphasis on throughlines across content areas; the design and development process; and ways that rubrics and student response exemplars used in scoring guidance can provide insights into student thinking that can be leveraged to move instruction and school planning forward.

“Throughout our partnership with New York City schools, we have developed a diverse portfolio of high-quality formative assessments that are creative and engaging, and that also provide insights into student thinking and identify opportunities for student improvement,” said Sparks. “We continually refine the assessments based on feedback from educators and update the subject areas to address relevant topics.”

Although there are significant variations in content and design across academic areas, all the assessments are structured as performance tasks in which students interact with one or more inter-related stimuli (such as informational passages, images, and data sets related to a specific real-world problem) and then answer items of gradually increasing complexity, culminating in an extended response such as writing an argumentative essay or creating an original solution to a problem.

“By focusing on higher-order skills that transcend specific instructional units and by presenting authentic problems using real-world scenarios, these performance tasks engage students in cognitive complexity and prepare them for the rigorous demands of end-of-year state assessments without resorting to conventional test preparation,” said Sparks.

To learn more about these and other CAE performance-based assessments that can help educators identify students’ strengths and areas for improvement in the foundational skills that are essential to their academic and career success, please visit

About CAE

As a nonprofit whose mission is to help improve the academic and career outcomes of secondary and higher education students, CAE is the leader in designing innovative performance tasks for measurement and instruction of higher order skills and for subject area assessments.

Over the past 20 years, CAE has helped 825,000+ students understand and improve their proficiency in critical thinking, problem solving and effective written communication. Additionally, CAE’s subject area assessments have helped millions of K12 students across the US. Leveraging best practices in assessment development, administration and psychometrics, CAE's performance-based assessments include the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) and College and Career Readiness Assessment (CCRA+). To learn more, please visit and connect with us on LinkedIn and YouTube.


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