September 20 | #EarlyLang Chat

“Managing Assessment with a Large Quantity of Students”
from September 20, 2017

On September 20, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly #EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed ways to assess and provide feedback to young learners, as well as how to track data with large numbers of students.

Q1: What type of grading system do you use (Proficiency based, Number, Letter, etc.)?

  The types of systems vary; some use traditional letter grades, some use a number scaler, others use letters to express Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, or Needs Improvement.  A few participants mentioned that they are not included on the report card, sometimes at the teacher’s request as the grade was not seen as meaningful.  Overall, it appears that the majority use a proficiency system to assess learning in the different language domains. @doriecp said, “A1: Proficiency based. Report card grades are either Meeting, Approaching or Beginning towards our targeted proficiency level.”  Several others stated that they use a similar system, using numbers or letters, to show progress toward end of marking period targets.  These systems are often used in grades K-5 and 6-8.

Q2: How does assessment and grading fit into your overall program?

    @mundodepepita summed it up nicely, “assessment for me is about figuring out what my kiddos still need, & therefore how I can help them meet goals.”  Most teachers would agree that this should be the aim of all assessment—meeting out students where they are in order to get them to where we (and they) want them to be.  It’s how we do it that varies.  Several participants mentioned feeling overwhelmed due to the need to provide grades for large numbers of students.  A few mentioned the use of proficiency based assessment; targets come from ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language) or the grade level team.  A few schools use the AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Perfomance toward Profiency in Language), which measures interpersonal communication in speaking and listening, writing, and interpretive reading and writing.  One of the main challenges in providing grades is having sufficient data for those classes that meet 30 or 60 minutes weekly.

Q3: How do you identify what to assess (and what not to assess)?

   The group consensus is that the end goal should be and is the focus of assessment. Some participants mentioned creating “Can Do” descriptors for each unit and using those as a basis for assessment, often with a pre-assessment to measure growth. Daily performance objectives allow for on-going formative assessment.  If done as part of the regular routine, students may not even realize they are being assessed, which may lead to more confidence and success.  For language learning, practice is essential; the ability to track how they are doing in the various language domains allows the teacher to discover what the students need.

Q4: How do you manage tracking data for a large number of students?

    Tracking data can be challenging, particularly for those teachers who have several hundred students to assess on a regular basis. Some teachers use paper-based methods. These include a simple checklist of skills, a roster with checkboxes to assess with a rubric, or setting up checklists in order of seating to easily find student names.  @mudodepepita posted this link; @Sra_Kennedy said that she uses something like this

    In addition to paper-based tracking, the participants suggested a number of digital trackers, including:

Q5: How do you communicate grades and feedback with your students?

    Feedback is given formally and informally.  Several teachers mentioned posting grade online, using Schoology, Sycamore Education, or other online tracking systems.  End of unit summative assessments and using “I can” statements created for each unit can also provide more formal feedback to students and their parents.  Formative, real-time feedback is also important. It can be verbal or non-verbal.  Several participants mentioned using specific statements rather than “Good job” or “Well done” so students know exactly what was correct and what they need to work on. @_MadameH posted a photo of how she uses post-its for feedback     

    Thank you to all who participated in the first #EarlyLang chat of this school year!. Thank you to our lead moderator, Mundo de Pepita (@mundodepepita) for leading the chat and to our co-moderator Dorie, (@doriecp) for helping guide the conversation. Thank you also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat. The next chat is October 4, 2017 at 8 pm EST.  Hope to see you there.

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