Children's Literature/WL Lesson Plans
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World Languages Assessment Tasks
World Languages Resources for K-12 Teachers and Parents
Some helpful information . . .
Users of the assessment materials developed during the Central Jersey World Languages Professional Development Project will find a departure from traditional foreign language assessment, and, hopefully, that will be a happy discovery. The entire purpose of the myriad tasks found in this section is to provide foreign language educators with options in how they assess their students.
Let's be honest . . .
Over the past 20 years, massive changes have occurred in the way students are taught foreign languages yet little change has been observed in assessing student progress. The effort to have students learn how to use language in the classroom oftentimes seems to have little influence on how students are assessed. Students may spend the majority of their class time in using the language only to encounter traditional paper and pencil tests to measure what they know. Such a gap between instruction and assessment practices can lead to student and teacher dissatisfaction in the foreign language learning experience in addition to not providing an accurate assessment of what students actually know how to do with the language they have been learning.
Students whose classroom experiences are characterized as performance-based environments (that is, students spend their time in activities that give them the ability to use the target language in simulated real-life situations) must be placed in performance-based assessment environments if we are to gain a fair and accurate picture of what they know and are able to do with the foreign language. How unfair it must seem to a student to have learned something one way and to have it assessed another! Many probably agree with that statement, but it, nonetheless, is reflective of not uncommon practice in American foreign language classrooms. The great challenge to foreign language educators is to identify, implement and perfect assessment strategies that truly mirror not only what was taught to students but the ways its was taught, as well.
When one considers the predominant intention, if not practice, of most foreign language educators to oversee performance-based classrooms, measurement of student progress by means of traditional assessment devices (i.e., paper and pencil tests) leaves a great deal to be desired. One way to more accurately measure what students know how to do in the target language is to consider the role that performance-based assessment can play.
Why Performance-Based Assessment?
It provides information on what students can actually do with language and their reflection on that process.
Proficiency-Oriented Language Instruction and Assessment:
Performance tasks are a turn-on for students. Good tasks motivate kids to work hard to perform at their highest possible level.
Engaging tasks capture their interest, their energy, and their pride of ownership.
Because performance tasks are aligned to the curriculum, they are accurate and meaningful indicators of "who knows what" and "who can do what."
When students, their parents, and school personnel all know what the academic targets are, then everyone can get down to the business of hitting those targets.
Performance task assessment increases teacher confidence in assessing student learning.
In addition to receiving feedback on student learning, we also get feedback on how well we're teaching. Performance tasks inform assessment and instruction simultaneously.
Performance tasks require learners to integrate content and process. Good tasks link them together.
We must remember that in the real world, they will be expected to do things -- to put information to use -- not just remember things.
Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks
Performance assessment calls upon students to demonstrate specific skills and competencies and to apply the skills and knowledge they have mastered.
The CALLA Handbook
Performance assessment does not determine who is best but helps learners do their best.
Challenge for a New Era: Nebraska K-12 Foreign Language Frameworks
Filling in the gap . . .
Identifying the great need to provide the profession with concrete examples of how performance-based assessment could be used, twelve teachers from the Central Jersey World Languages Professional Development Institute, held in the summer of 1999 in Princeton, were selected to pursue intensive training in foreign language assessment, specifically in design and implementation of performance-based assessment tasks. Meeting for three days in October, 1999, three days in March, 2000, and three days in June, 2000, these teacher leaders studied various aspects of performance-based assessment and then designed and field-tested the assessment tasks that are found in the following pages. The design process for the tasks took the following approach:
Over the course of the year, 28 tasks were developed, field-tested and revised following the process described above.
So, what does a performance-based task look like?
Teachers in the assessment group identified a standard format to follow in development of tasks so that that all tasks would have a uniform appearance for ease of use. Here is how each task is organized.
Additionally, any support papers necessary to carry out the task have been included with each task.
Credit where credit is due . . .
The tasks that are available for classroom use are the result of hard work done by the following group of foreign language professionals:
Lesson plans and assessment tasks have been contributed by Central Jersey World Languages Professional Development Institute 2000.
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