Test Drive a CEPA (Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessment)

We have been getting requests to develop Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessments (CEPAs). When assessment is outside the flow of instruction, it can feel forced and unwelcome to students. CEPAs are designed to remedy this situation.

We invite you to view this 3-minute video describing our prototype CEPA for ELA/Social Studies.


When our writers work on these, they often ask us:

How is a Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessment different from a project?

The key difference is that while both CEPAs and projects focus on an engaging theme or topic, assessment occurs at the end of a project, through evaluation of the student’s final product. What is lost, however, is evaluation of the process. Curriculum-Embedded Performance Assessments, by contrast, are designed with assessment goals in mind from the start.

In our view, a CEPA is most effective when it is a seamless experience for students, one in which their engagement with content flows naturally into tasks that provide the basis for assessment.

Here are key considerations we use to validate a CEPA topic at the start of development:

  • Is the content likely to be compelling for the majority of students?
  • Is there an appropriate challenge level, at a suitable reading level?
  • Is there sufficient rigor, per the Common Core?
  • Does the content present challenges in terms of cultural sensitivity, and if so, how will those be treated?
  • Do the performance tasks strike a good balance, with some tasks that can easily be scored and others that give teachers a more nuanced view of students’ thinking processes?
  • Does the CEPA promote 21st-century learning, using a variety of media that reinforce each other and enrich the overall experience?

In addition, there are special considerations for CEPAs in each discipline. We developed our prototype CEPA for ELA to guide writers. It uses the Maori legend upon which the film Whale Rider was based. This book and movie are widely used, especially in middle school. The visual, cultural, and emotional power of the story are considerable. At the same time, various issues arise around cultural sensitivity. We resolved how to address each of these through thoughtful discussions.

Your feedback is appreciated! We invite you to use the comments to join in the conversation.

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