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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop

Planning for Assessment

Assessment can be embedded in relevant, meaningful, and authentic performance tasks throughout the year, as well as in culminating activities. The session also addresses the value of ongoing feedback to learners.

[Students] want to believe that every performance they complete, regardless of what that task or product might be, that they’re working to get better over time. Assessments are their opportunity to demonstrate knowledge, skill, and understanding.

– Allison Zmuda, education consultant, Understanding by Design

Learning Goals

How do you plan and carry out an assessment that informs both you and your students about their progress? In this session, you’ll review relevant research, observe video discussions and classroom examples, and do a culminating activity on planning an effective assessment of student work. At the end of this session, you will better understand how to:

  • design informal (formative) classroom assessments of student performance and progress;
  • design formal (summative) assessments of student performance; and
  • provide feedback to students on their performance that helps them to make progress and understand how to track their progress.

Unit Glossary

communicative modes
The three communicative modes — interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational — are the basis of the Communication goal area of the National Standards. (To read more about each of these standards, go to National Standards.) These modes emphasize the context and purpose of communication, unlike the traditional four-skills approach of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, which treats skills as isolated units.

performance assessment
During a performance assessment, students demonstrate their ability to use the target language in activities that parallel what native speakers might do. For example, students might create a newspaper, respond to a want ad, or conduct an interview to learn about a cultural topic. These assessments are best evaluated using clearly developed rubrics, although grades can be assigned in a more traditional way.

A rubric is an assessment tool that describes the components of a student task and the expectations for completion. An effective rubric establishes clear assessment criteria — such as the expectations for vocabulary recall, pronunciation, and creativity — and gives students guidelines for doing the task and teachers a method for evaluating it. A rubric also provides descriptive feedback so that students know how to improve their performance.


Check out these additional resources to explore the topic further.

ACTFL Performance Guidelines for K-12 Learners

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. National Standards in Foreign Language Education Collaborative Project. Yonkers, NY: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 1999. (To purchase the Standards document, go to or call 1-800-627-0629.)

Arter, J., and J. McTighe. Scoring Rubrics in the Classroom: Using Performance Criteria for Assessing and Improving Student Performance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2001.

Darling-Hammond, L., J. Ancess, and B. Falk. Authentic Assessment in Action: Studies of Schools and Students at Work. New York: Teachers College Press, 1995.

Guskey, Thomas R. “How Classroom Assessments Can Improve Learning.” Educational Leadership 60, no. 5 (February 2003): 7-11. (This text is available in the Before You Watch section.)

Marzano, R. J., et al. A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2001.

McTighe, Jay. “What Happens Between Assessments?” Educational Leadership 54, no. 4 (December 1996/January 1997): 6-12.

Mertler, Craig A. “Designing Scoring Rubrics for Your Classroom.” Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation 7, no. 25 (2001). (This text is available in the Before You Watch section.)

Sandrock, Paul. Planning Curriculum for Learning World Languages, 65-95. Milwaukee, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2002. (This text is available in the Before You Watch section.)

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

Wiggins, G., and J. McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), 1998.

Library Videos Chart

The following lessons from Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices are listed in the order in which they appear in the “Planning for Assessment” video:

Lesson Title Instructor Language Grade Level
Assessment Strategies Nancy Gadbois French 10-12
Russian Cities, Russian Stories Jane Shuffelton Russian 9-12
Interpreting Literature Barbara Pope Bennett Spanish 11
A Cajun Folktale and Zydeco Paris Granville French 8
Assessment Strategies Wendie Santiago Spanish 11-12
Assessment Strategies Maureen Pizzutello French 11-12
Mapping Planet Earth Stephanie Appel French 2
Creating Travel Advice Fran Pettigrew Spanish 11
Performing With Confidence Yvette Heno French 10-12



If you are taking this workshop for credit or professional development, submit the following assignments for session 7: Planning for Assessment.

  1. Examine the Research
    Read the articles, then submit your written responses to the Reading Questions.
  2. Examine the Topic
    Complete the interactive activity, then write a brief summary of what you learned from the activity.
  3. Put It Into Practice
    Complete one or both of the activities, then submit your informal performance assessment plan and/or formal performance assessment plan.
  4. Action Research Project
    Submit your completed action research project on any one of the eight session topics.
  5. Reflect on Your Learning
    Review your notes, then write a summary of what you have learned and how you plan to apply it in your classroom.