Guiding Questions

  • What does it mean to understand?
  • Why do we assess, what should we assess, how should we assess it?
  • How can we use assessment as a tool for informing instruction and improving student performance?
  • How can we use performance-based assessments to design effective learning experiences for students?
  • How can we provide students with timely feedback that will help them to improve their performance?
  • How can technology help us to record and report student performance?
  • How can we adapt assessment practices for students with exceptionalities?

Purposes of Assessment

What we assess and how we assess it should change depending on the kind of information we need and the person who will be using the information. When designing an assessment tool, think about these questions:

1) For what purpose am I gathering this information?
2) Who will be using this information? Who else will have access to the information?
3) What kind of information do I need to gather in order to accomplish my purpose?
4) What will I need to assess in order to gather the information I need?

Purpose of Feedback
Type of Information
Implications for Assessment
Help them evaluate their progress and improve their performance

Communicate information to them about the progress of their children and assist them in helping their children improve their performance

Help them evaluate their own teaching and make better instructional decisions that will better support students' learning

Help them evaluate and improve programs

Help them evaluate and develop policies that will better support teaching and learning

Principles of Assessment

Assessments should . . .

  • be based on clear targets (enduring understandings, reasoning and problem-solving, performance skills and processes, quality products, feelings and attitudes), focused purposes, proper methods, sound sampling, and accurate collection and interpretation of data

  • offer a clear vision of achievement expectations (i.e., they should be rigorous, aligned with national and state standards, aligned with curriculum, published, and should highlight what is important for students to be able to do)

  • consist of multiple sources of information, collected at different points in the learning process

  • be selected to ensure that they will provide the necessary information for the intended purpose

  • tell everyone involved (including students) what to do next (i.e., give feedback that guides instruction, curriculum development, program development, policy implementation, and funding)

  • showcase what students know and can do with the language

  • test what was taught in the way it was taught

  • require students to apply what was taught in culturally authentic contexts and for real-life purposes

  • empower students to take charge of their own learning

  • involve students in record-keeping and communication

Adapted from belief statements contributed by participants in the Mentoring, Leadership, & Change 2003 Summer Institute held at the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center at Iowa State University.

Assessment Resources

The resources in this section will take you to the LanguageLinks2006 Wiki.

** My Test-taking Rules - A list of rules that help teachers avoid having to "accuse" students of cheating

Annotated List of Articles, Books, & Other Resources Related to Assessment

Using Reflective Assessment to Support Student Learning - This electronic newsletter from the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center will connect you to ideas, information, and materials that will help you to reflect on your current uses of assessment and, perhaps, to examine some new approaches - chericem1 external image chericem1-sm.jpg

Technological Tools for Supporting Assessment

Audacity – Phenomenal, free software you can download and use just like a tape-recorder. Use it to record student speaking assessments, or have students use it to create their own audio portfolios that document their speaking skills. Since the files can be saved as MP3s that can be exported to MP3 players (like iPods), you can assess on the go! - chericem1 chericem1

Brochure Creator - Have students design brochures and flyers that allow you to assess their language skills by selecting themes and templates, editing the text, adding their own images, and printing.

BubblePLY - Allows you or students to add speech and thought bubbles to any online video, which means that you can now provide feedback directly on videos that students create, and that you can ask students to point out language patterns, cultural insights, etc., that they notice in existing videos. - chericem1 external image chericem1-sm.jpg - Easy-to-use, online, colorful graphic organizer that is shareable. Have students use it to create concept maps of what they think they know about a topic prior to studying it, and then ask them to create another map after finishing the unit. Compare the two maps to see if their understanding has grown. - chericem1 chericem1

ClassTools - Provides flash-based templates for the creation of graphic organizers, puzzles, and worksheets. Use them to create quick assessments. - chericem1 chericem1

Cmap - Free, online collaborative concept mapping. Students can create a concept map that represents their understanding of a particular topic (or the teacher can create a concept map that represents the topics that have been studied), then students can attach their own work to individual bubbles, making it an especially valuable tool for creating portfolios of student work that are clearly linked to the National Standards and curricular goals and objectives (assuming, of course, that those are represented on the concept map).. - chericem1 external image chericem1-sm.jpg

Comeeko - Free, well-designed software that lets students create their own comic strips (using photos or images) and save them for others to view. This tool works well for assessing students who can only produce limited amounts of written language.

Create Your Scenario - Darling tool that lets you select characters, type lines for each one, save the work, and generate a playscript. Teachers can ask students to perform simple plays in the target language as a culminating assessment at the end of a unit. - chericem1 chericem1

Edublogs - A free blogging service specifically designed for educational use. With appropriate permissions and precautions in place, blogs can provide students with access to authentic audiences for their work. They become living portfolios of student work that document not only student progress, but also program growth. - chericem1 chericem1

FDs Flickr Toys - Some FUN things you can do to Flickr photos (such as create CD covers, magazine covers, mosaics, trading cards, etc.) that would make interesting assessments. - chericem1 chericem1

Generator Blog - A fantastic blog that contains links to all sorts of free, interesting generators (such as cereal boxes, insurance cards, money, etc.) that would be great tools for students to use in creating creative, performance-based assessments. - chericem1 chericem1

Google Docs - Free, online spreadsheet and word processor like Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word that lets multiple users on different computers edit a document simultaneously and save it online. Great for collaborative group writing assessments. Combine this with Skype for voice features too! - chericem1 chericem1 - Allows you to create free quizzes, polls, and surveys that you can use on your blog, MySpace, etc. - chericem1 chericem1

Jumpcut - Allows you to edit digital video for free online. Great for students who don't have access to anything but the internet at home! - chericem1 chericem1

Keep Toolkit - A free, online project planning template that allows students to input images, text, and video into different "boxes" to create a shareable "project portfolio." - chericem1 chericem1

Media Convert - A free, slick little online tool that will let you identify a media file on your desktop or at a particular URL and convert it to the format of your choice simply by filling in a simple form. No registration required. Useful when students turn assessments in using a format your computer will not read. - chericem1 chericem1

Protopage - Ever wonder what a Web 2.0 webpage will look like? Well, here's the answer! Register for free to get your own page, then customize the content by clicking on any of the tabs and altering their contents. Make as much as you like public or private. Like someone else's content? Simply click import and watch it all get added to your page! - chericem1 chericem1

Scrapblog - Combines the purposes and multimedia features of blogging with the visual affordances of scrapbooking. Comes with built-in templates and can accommodate music and video too. Offers many possibilities for projects that could be used as assessments. - chericem1 chericem1

Skype – Free software that allows you to talk to anyone in the world (up to 4 people at once) through your computer for free with a cheap headset mic (like the telemarketers wear) as long as the other person also has the software. Great for group conversations about projects. You can also call landlines or cell phones, but there is a charge for that - chericem1 chericem1

The Amazing You Tube Tools Collection - A collection of tools to help those interested in using/publishing materials to YouTube. - chericem1 chericem1

Tubes - Allows users to drag and drop content (audio files, bookmarks, documents, e-mail contact lists, spreadsheets, videos) into a "tube" that can then be accessed by all those who have been invited to share it. Invitees can also upload content to the tube, making project collaboration easier. The latest versions of content in the tube synch up when the user is online. Click on the Download link to see a 30-second demo. - chericem1 chericem1

Wikispaces - Allows you to set up collaborative work spaces where multiple people can collaborate. Allows uploading of documents, files, images, and multimedia in addition to basic text, and includes discussion boards for every page, editing histories, revert options, RSS subscriptions, and the ability to review recent changes. An easy way to monitor group process as well as a space in which both individual and group products can be displayed. - chericem1 chericem1