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What Happens When Students Design Their Own Assessments?

With classmates, parents, teachers, and even the Roanoke County schools superintendent standing before him, high school senior Bubba Smith took a deep breath and set the two-story Rube Goldberg machine into motion.

The contraption, which performed a series of complicated actions to lift a banner, was part of Bubba’s fourth-quarter grade for his AP Physics class. Students in physics and the AP Calculus class worked on the machine for nine weeks and then presented it during Hidden Valley High School’s end-of-year exhibition of students’ projects, most of which they designed themselves.