Although it may seem unfathomable to some of the younger teachers out there, I still remember the first time I saw the word “rubric” in the title of a session at a foreign language conference years ago. At the time, I had no idea what a rubric was or how it related to assessing language learners. Needless to say, that session forever changed the way that I evaluated student learning in my classroom. I was so excited about this new way of assessing students that I started creating rubrics for everything. At first I preferred analytic rubrics—assigning separate scores to each aspect of a written or oral product just seemed more objective. However, I eventually realized that the quality of a performance could not necessarily be calculated by adding up the separate parts of a whole, so I switched to a holistic rubric that I tweaked periodically over the years. I have realized this year, however, that I needed to do some major revising to reflect my current proficiency-based methodology. The descriptors I was using didn’t adequately reflect the elements of proficiency as described by ACTFL. Since my own performance is now being evaluated according to my students’ proficiency, it is important that I am methodical in providing feedback to my students that is clearly related to their progress in proficiency. Fortunately for me, the state of Ohio has recently published a series of scoring guidelines that will help me do just that!
You can find the rubrics in their entirety here and my comments below.
- Performance Evaluation. These are the rubrics designed to use with end of unit assessments. There are three separate rubrics—Presentational Speaking, Presentational Writing, and Interpersonal Communication. I think that these scoring guidelines will be an invaluable asset in my assessment practices for the following reasons:
- The heading of the rubric provides a means for the teacher to indicate the targeted performance level of the assessment. As a Level 1-5 teacher, it may be helpful for me to have one set of guidelines to use with all students, rather than a series of level-specific rubrics. The wording in the descriptors allows the teacher to adjust for the unit content and proficiency level with phrases such as, “appropriate vocabulary,” “practiced structures,” “communicative goal,” and “targeted level.” The Interpersonal Communication rubric even includes specific descriptors for both Novice and Intermediate interaction.
- Each rubric includes a page designed for either student self-assessment and/or teacher feedback for each section of the rubric. The overall descriptors are given for each criteria, along with separate columns for strengths and areas of improvement. I think this format will allow me to provide specific, targeted feedback to my students. They will know exactly what they need to do in order to progress in their performance. As a result, I anticipate using this page alone to provide feedback on formative assessments.
- The wording in these rubrics is well-suited to Integrated Performance Assessments. All three guidelines include a descriptor about whether the student’s response was supported with an authentic resource (or detail.)
- These rubrics convey the vital role that cultural content must play in all performances with a criteria devoted entirely to “Cultural Competence.” The presence of this descriptor will serve as an important reminder to the teacher that s/he must include a cultural component when developing assessments and to the student who must demonstrate that this knowledge has been attained.
- Proficiency Evaluation. These are the rubrics designed to assess the students’ overall proficiency level in Presentational Speaking, Presentational Writing and Interpersonal Communication. Therefore, a separate rubric is included for each proficiency level that is targeted in a secondary program (Novice Mid-Intermediate Mid). The design of these rubrics will enable me to clearly identify my students’ proficiency for the following reasons:
- Each rubric is aligned to the ACTFL descriptors for the targeted proficiency level. I will no longer have to page through the ACTFL documents to find the descriptors that I need for each level.
- Each rubric also contains Interculturality descriptors, based on the NCSSFL Interculturality Can-Do statements.
- Each rubric contains descriptors for three sub-levels of the targeted proficiency level. This is vital for those of us who are required to measure growth over less than a year’s time. In my district, for example, our proficiency post-test must be given in March, before many students are able to demonstrate progress to the next full proficiency level.
- Although my current understanding is that proficiency can only be measured by unrehearsed tasks that are not related to a recent unit of study, teachers who use proficiency-based grading might use these rubrics throughout the academic year.
Because Ohio has deferred to the ACTFL rubrics for assessing Interpretive Reading and Listening, I’ll look forward to addressing these guidelines in a further post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear others’ opinions of these new rubrics.