Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Performance Assessment and Rubrics/Secondary Foreign Languages

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Performance Assessment for Spanish
By: Brian Breshears

Introduction[edit | edit source]

While studying a language there are a myriad of ways that a student may be assessed. Testing students on their knowledge of vocabulary or placement of accent marks by way of a written response test or a research paper are just a couple of options. The unique thing about learning a language is that it is meant to be performed. Reading and writing are important aspects of the language, but its true purpose is verbal communication. This chapter will explore options for performance assessment as it pertains to the Spanish language.

Learning targets[edit | edit source]

Reader will be able to identify two methods of assessing a Spanish student by way of performance.

What is Performance Assessment?[edit | edit source]

According to the Alverno College, which implemented assessments for its students in 1973, assessment is defined as the following:

• a process integral to learning

• involving observation and judgment of each student's performance

• based on public criteria

• with self assessment

• with feedback for student improvement of learning and faculty improvement of teaching (Albromeit, Accessed on 18, March 2009)

More specifically they define performance assessment as “Demonstration of abilities in action in the kind of integrated situation in which students would use them in their life beyond campus” (Albromeit, Accessed on 18, March 2009). Performance Assessments are founded in a curriculum based on eight abilities

Types of performance assessments[edit | edit source]

Getting students to speak the language is probably the most challenging thing about being a Spanish teacher. To get students started on a path to proficiency, a teacher must be able to remove the obstacles standing in front of them. One major obstruction facing the students is a fear of speaking in front of others. The easiest way to overcome this is through group conversation.

In group conversation the teacher splits the class into groups of two or three. In order to make the students feel comfortable about speaking another language in front of their peers, the teacher will create a template from which the students should follow in order to create their conversation. The groups are then responsible for creating a conversation in Spanish in their own words, but using the template as a road map for their conversation. They will then present the final conversation in front of the class. Each student must use the vocabulary they have studied leading up to the presentation.

This task promotes self education by allowing the students to speak about things that interest them, but also keeps them focused on a specific format for their conversation. A student is more likely to look up and retain words he/she doesn’t know when talking in front of his/her peers.

Another assessment is an extended oral presentation. The teacher can give the student a written test in Spanish, have them memorize it and then present it in front of the class. The Spanish teacher at Hugo Owen’s Middle School, Laura Agudelo, gives an example of this, “I find the Pledge of Allegiance works perfectly. It’s short enough that it’s not too intimidating to memorize and it’s a text that is familiar to them” (Agudelo, 2009). According to Mrs. Agudelo the rubric by which she assesses her students is based on correct pronunciation and fluidity of speech. The students feel comfortable with the text and it is also something they can practice in their homeroom every morning.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Performance assessment can be very rewarding for both the teacher and students when used properly. It can also give students confidence to speak in front of others.

Questions[edit | edit source]

1. What is the most challenging thing about being a language teacher?

a. dispelling cultural differences

b. getting the students to speak the language

c. getting to work on time

d. learning how to speak another language

2. What are two examples of performance assessment?

a. Class projects and Smartboard lessons

b. Computer games and hooked on phonics

c. Extended oral presentation and conversation

d. Written test and quiz performance

3. It what ways could Mrs. Agudelo assess her student’s performance of the language?

a. Ask them questions in the language and grade their competency.

b. Have them memorize the pledge of allegiance and grade their pronunciation

c. Assign them conversations and grade their fluency

d. All of the above

4. What would be an effective way for Mrs. Agudelo to reinforce a vocabulary list?

a. Have the students write them repeatedly.

b. Have students create conversations using the vocabulary list.

c. Stand in front of the class and yell the words until they get them

d. Tell the principal that the students are all stupid and she can’t teach them.

Answers: 1)b 2)c 3)d 4)b

References[edit | edit source]

Agudelo, L. (2009). Direct quote. Chesapeake Public Schools.

Albromeit, J. (Accessed on 18, March 2009). Assessment Essentials.