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World Languages
Professional Development Institute 2000

Assessment Tasks

Children's Literature/WL Lesson Plans

Technology/WL Lessons Plans
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Novice
Title Topic Print
A Trip to the Zoo animals printer-friendly version
Around the Mexican Town maps/ directions printer-friendly version
Can You Describe Me? wild animals printer-friendly version
Can You Find the Color? colors printer-friendly version
Diez amigos van al mercado
  (Ten Friends Go to the Market)
shopping printer-friendly version
¿Dónde está?
   (Where is it?)
locations printer-friendly version
Eyewitness personal description printer-friendly version
Finding a Job reading ads/ writing letters printer-friendly version
First Aid Squad basic questions printer-friendly version
Le Bonhomme Sandwich
  (The Sandwich Man)
body parts printer-friendly version
Let's Make Paella food printer-friendly version
My Home Town giving directions printer-friendly version
¿Qué vas a hacer?
  (What are you going to do?)
weekend plans printer-friendly version
 
Novice/Intermediate
Title Topic Print
Anuncios comerciales
  (Ads)
persuading others printer-friendly version
Having a Bad Day self expression/ persuading printer-friendly version
 
Intermediate
Title Topic Print
A Conversation in a Restaurant foods/ descriptions printer-friendly version
Aclarando malentendidos
  (Conflict resolution)
self expression printer-friendly version
Dangerous Weather vacations/ weather printer-friendly version
Frida Kahlo: Mi interpreptaci Mexican art printer-friendly version
The Incompetent Doctor health printer-friendly version
Las Meninas art descriptions printer-friendly version
Letter to a Friend expressing thoughts and emotions printer-friendly version
Problem in the Emergency Room health printer-friendly version
Problems at the Airport traveling printer-friendly version
Un Nouveau Parfum creating/ describing printer-friendly version
Vive La France Libre DeGaulle/ French Resistance printer-friendly version
Vive le Francais! relationship of language and culture printer-friendly version
Ferris French's Day Off! health, excuses printer-friendly version

    World Languages Assessment Tasks
World Languages Resources for K-12 Teachers and Parents Some helpful information

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:
A Curriculum Handbook for Teachers

Diane J. Tedick, ed.
Center for Advanced Research on Education
University of Minnesota, 1998

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
Larry Lewin and Betty Jean Shoemaker
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998

Performance assessment calls upon students to demonstrate specific skills and competencies and to apply the skills and knowledge they have mastered.

The CALLA Handbook
Ana Chamot and Michael O'Malley
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1994

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
Nebraska Department of Education, 1996

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:

  • Teachers jointly developed a standard template that everyone would follow in creating tasks;
  • Each participate individually developed tasks;
  • Following initial task development, two teachers worked together to critique each task;
  • Revisions were made;
  • The total group of twelve, plus the group facilitator, provided feedback on each task;
  • Revisions were made again;
  • The tasks were field-tested in the teacher's school;
  • Final revisions were made based on results of the field-test.

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.

Title:    (Each task has a unique title for easy identification.)

Topic:    (Major area of focus, e.g., colors, seasons, professions)

Level:    (ACTFL Proficiency/Performance    Focus Age Group: (stated in age)

National Standards Goals:

(The goal[s] from the national standards to which the task is linked)

Communicative Mode:

(Identification of task as either interpersonal, interpretive or presentational communication)

N.J. Cumulative Progress Indicators:

(Each task is keyed to the New Jersey Cumulative Progress Indicators.)

Time Frame:

(This is the developers' best "guesstimate" of time needed to perform the task.)

Description of Task:

(In this section, the exact words the students should see in order to understand the task will appear here. Developers have been very careful to make every attempt to create real-life tasks and to write the task description in such a way that it will motivate students.)

Materials Needed:

(Any materials the teacher and/or student will need in order to complete the task are indicated here.)

Teacher Notes:

(If developers identified any advance information that would be helpful to the teacher, it will appear here.)

Scoring Criteria:

(Each task is accompanied by a rubric that fully explains the criteria for assessing the student work. As with any performance-based assessment task, students should know about and understand the rubric in advance of the assessment.)

Adaptations:

(If developers identified spin-off activities from the task, they will be suggested here.)

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:

Assessment Teacher Leaders
Robyn Apffel
Clinton Public School
Lisa Rebimbas
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School
Diana Chase
Howell High School
Bob Roth
Edison Intermediate School
Deborah Feinberg
New Providence High School
Hilda A. Spevack
East Brunswick High School
Kristina E. Fellin
John Witherspoon Middle School
Martha Toma
Princeton Charter School
Carol A. Meulener
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School
Rebekah Villano
Littlebrook Elementary School
Greg Duncan, Facilitator
InterPrep, Inc.
Martin Smith, Institute Director
Princeton Regional Schools

 

Bibliography

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Hastings-on-Hudson, NY: ACTFL 1986.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
ACTFL Performance Guidelines for K-12 Learners. Yonkers, NY: ACTFL, 1999.

Chamot, Anna Uhl and O'Malley, Michael J.
The CALLA Handbook: Implementing the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1994.

Duncan, Greg.
"The Standards-Based Classroom and Assessment: The Proof is in the Pudding," AATSP Professional Development Series, Teaching Spanish With the Five C's: A Blueprint for Success. Ed. Gail Gunterman. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000.

Indiana Department of Education.
Assessment Tasks in French, German and Spanish. Indianapolis, IN, 1993.

Lewin, Larry and Shoemaker, Betty Jean.
Great Performances: Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998.

National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project.
Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. Lawrence, KS: 1999.

Nebraska Department of Education.
Nebraska K-12 Foreign Language Frameworks. Lincoln, NE: 1996.

New Jersey State Department of Education.
New Jersey World Languages Curriculum Framework. Trenton, NJ: 1999.

Tedick, Diane J., ed.
Proficiency-Oriented Language Instruction and Assessment: A Curriculum Handbook for Teachers. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Advanced Research in Language Acquisition: 1998.
    Lesson plans and assessment tasks have been contributed by Central Jersey World Languages Professional Development Institute 2000.
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