Grading for Proficiency, 2020

Although I have written about my grading policies in the past, my ideas have continued to evolve since these earlier posts.  Prompted by a recent conversation on the French Teachers in the US Facebook page, I thought I would share my most recent policies for grading in a proficiency-based classroom.

Step 1: Gradebook

My preferred gradebook configuration is to have five different categories: Reading, Listening, Speaking, Writing and Miscellaneous .  I weight each of these categories evenly at 20%.  Other people use the modes (Interpretive, Interpersonal and Presentational) as their categories and I think that’s great.  I preferred to use the skills rather than modes, because my students and I got more specific feedback this way.  I found that a student’s interpersonal speaking and presentational speaking skills were much more congruous than their presentational speaking and presentational writing skills were.  If I used Presentational as a category, I would not immediately be clear whether a struggling student needed support for writing or speaking. Note: If I were in a school with standards-based grading, I would eliminate the Miscellaneous category and move the other categories to 25%. 

Step 2: Formative Assessments

In my classroom the majority of the each class period was spent on communicative activities that I assessed as follows:

Interpretive Reading: When the students read something in class and completed some type of comprehension-based task, I either gave whole class feedback (providing the correct answers) or collected their work for written feedback. This feedback was usually limited to a score (I scored out of 10 rather than percentages) based on accuracy. 

Interpretive Listening: I assigned a lot of Edpuzzles (but only because FluentKey wasn’t yet available!) I used the computer-generated score as a basis for a score out of 10. Because I didn’t expect my students to get all of my questions correct (I designed some questions to encourage my high flyers to stretch), I usually gave a 10/10 for 90% or higher, 9/10 for 80% or higher, etc.  

Interpersonal Speaking: I circulated among my students as they worked on interpersonal tasks. Sometimes I filled out a rubric with specific feedback and recorded a score (out of 10) but most times I jotted down notes on a class roster.  Occasionally I used these notes to determine a grade. I did not generally assign any interpersonal writing tasks. 

Presentational Writing: I often assigned short written tasks based on the interpretive and interpersonal tasks from the lesson and gave basic feedback and a score out of 10.  

Presentational Speaking: I seldom assigned a presentational speaking task as a formative assessment.  When I did so, I provided feedback and a score out of 10.

In addition to these communicative activities, I occasionally gave a quiz of some kind.  For example, if the students had done a pair activity that involved describing pictures to each other, I might describe 5 pictures and have the students identify them. If they had done a reading activity with a partner, I might ask some oral true/false questions about the reading.  

At the end of a 4-6 week unit, I had a LOT of scores.  They ALL went in the Miscellaneous category. A better name for this category would have been Formative Assessment, but I was leaving myself a little wiggle room for the rare instances that I needed to include something that I didn’t consider to be a formative assessment but that I was required to assign by my department.  

Step 3: Summative Assessments

At the end of each unit, I assigned an Integrated Performance Assessment.  Each task in the assessment resulted in a separate grade.  So for most IPAs I had a grade for each performance category: Interpretive Reading, Interpretive Listening, Interpersonal Speaking and Presentational Writing.  If I included a Presentational Speaking task, that would be an additional grade in my Speaking category.  

The grades for the IPAs were the only grades that went into my performance categories.  In other words, 80% of my grades (all but the formative assessments) came from IPAs.  

When I graded my IPAs, I used the following rubrics.

Interpretive Reading: I used the rubric from the ACTFL publication, Implementing Integrated Performance Assessment by Bonnie Adair-Hauck, Eileen W. Glisan and Francis J. Troyan. I assigned 10/10 for students whose work fell in the Accomplished Comprehension category, and 8/10 or 9/10 for Strong Comprehension, a 7/10 for Minimal Comprehension and a 5/10 or 6/10 for Limited Comprehension.  I did not assign scores of less that 5/10.  (See this article for an explanation of this policy.)  

Interpretive Listening: Because I did not use the IPA Interpretive Template for my listening assessments, I developed individual rubrics for my listening tasks.  I usually used a graphic organizer or comprehension questions for listening assessment and a rubric something like this: 

10: Identifies the main ideas and supports each one with relevant details

9: Identifies the main ideas and supports most of them with relevant details

8: Identifies some main ideas and/or several details

7: Identifies a main idea and a couple of details.

6: Identifies a few details.

5: Is unable to identify a main idea or provide any relevant details. 

Interpersonal Speaking: I used this proficiency-based rubric from the Ohio Department of Education. 

Presentational Speaking and/or Presentational Writing: I used this proficiency-based rubric from the Ohio Department of Education. 

Note: The Interpersonal and Presentational rubrics do not provide a numeric or letter grade.  I preferred to just check the relevant boxes to provide feedback to my students.  In order to determine a numerical grade for my gradebook, I used this conversion chart:

*In each case (9) represents the ACTFL expectation.

Standards-Based Grading

Many schools are adopting standards-based grading practices.  I have created standards-based rubrics for each mode of communication and they are available here:

I know that what worked for me may not work in other environments and I look forward to hearing from other teachers who are willing to share the grading practices they have developed!

15 thoughts on “Grading for Proficiency, 2020

  1. Catherine LaFrance

    Bonjour Madame!
    I’m investigating the switch to proficiency-based grading (with all it entails for curriculum and teaching), but I’m curious to know one thing about grading — if 80% of the students’ grades are based on the summative assessments of your PBL, how do students (or their parents) monitor their grades during any given period? We have quarters, for example, and our LMS provides real-time gradebook updates. Does a student’s grade in the “miscellaneous” aka formative grading section accurately predict their performance on the summative grading section?

    Merci en avance!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      These are great questions! I do want to clarify that there are many ways to grade for proficiency and this is what worked for me. Yes, I did find that my students’ formative assessment grades were pretty good indicators of how they would do on their IPAs. I would also try to do at least a mini-IPA after a month or so of school so that everybody has clear expectations. I found that once I started grading for proficiency, students’ grades were pretty consistent. Students progress at their own rate, but don’t generally regress. Please let me know how it goes!

      1. Catherine LaFrance

        Merci mille fois! I like the idea of the mini IPA, to be sure. I’ve been teaching French since 1995 (a bit off an on), so I’m always interested in improving my game. Stay healthy!

  2. Elyse Hoffman

    Thank you so much for posting this detailed explanation! So helpful! One question – for the interpretive listening, do you allow the students to listen to the video (or whatever the source) multiple times ? Do they control the playback (my students all have their own devices, so it would be possible for me) or do you usually just play it once or twice in front of the whole class? And how do you foresee this going if you are teaching and/or assessing remotely this upcoming year? Merci en avance!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Because each of my students had a Chromebook, I allowed thrm to control the playback. Since I’m not currently teaching, I haven’t had to figure out how to assess remotely.I have some ideas but don’t know how practical they are.I’m going to ask some colleagues and get back to you on this one.

  3. Marcet Spahr

    Thank you so much, Lisa. Everything you do makes my teaching easier and better! Merci infiniment! Thank you for the TpT link as well.

  4. Mary Clair Wissman

    I have kind of a specific question. When you taught DP did you also use Schoology at that time? If so, did you use the DP speaking and writing rubrics in Schoology to grade students assessments?

  5. Clare Lincoln

    Hi Lisa,
    First, thank you SO MUCH for all of the resources you share here with us so generously. Your blog has helped me start shifting my school’s French program and though we are not breaking up with our book completely, the program overall is so much better for it.

    A few years ago, I had saved an IPA that you did for a unit called “Qu’est-ce qui vous fait lever le matin” that I think must be one that you reworked. What I didn’t save was the scanned magazine interview for the Interpretive reading task. It was an interview with young people from across the francophone world. By any chance, do you still have that, and if so, would you be willing to share it with me?

    Grand merci!

  6. Gretchen Mancuso

    Such a helpful post! I am wondering which rubri c you used for assessing the interpretive reading and listening formative assessments. You said it was a 10-point rubric. Is it similar to what you included in your post for the Martinique unit?

    Merci mille fois!


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