Skip to main content Skip to main content

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop

Planning for Assessment Before you Watch

To begin this workshop session, you will tap your prior knowledge and experience and then read current research on designing effective classroom assessments.

Reflect on Your Experience

Consider the types of assessments you have used, then answer the following questions. You may want to save your answers in order to reflect on them again at the end of the session.

  1. How do you typically assess students’ oral proficiency? How often do you assess it? What are the challenges of assessing oral proficiency during interpersonal tasks? During presentational tasks? What criteria do you use to evaluate students’ performance in interpersonal tasks versus presentational tasks?
  1. How do you typically assess students’ interpretive skills in reading? In listening? What skills are you typically assessing (for example, memorized vocabulary or guessing meaning from context clues)?
  1. How do you typically assess students’ written communication? What criteria do you use? What kind of feedback might students receive?
  1. What kinds of classroom assessments have you found to be effective in quickly checking student performance? What kinds of unit or end-of-term assessments have you found to be effective?
  1. How might your assessment strategies affect how you plan and organize a unit?
  1. If you use a textbook package that includes assessments, what are the strengths and weaknesses associated with these? If your school or department has specific assessment requirements, how do you incorporate them?

Examine the Research

Read the articles listed below, then answer the following questions.


“How Classroom Assessments Can Improve Learning” (PDF, 410 K)
This article discusses the importance of making assessments that are useful to teachers and students, following assessments with corrective instruction, and giving students multiple chances to demonstrate learning.

Guskey, Thomas R. “How Classroom Assessments Can Improve Learning.” Educational Leadership 60, no. 5 (February 2003): 7-11.

“Designing Scoring Rubrics for Your Classroom” (PDF, 168 K)
This article describes different types of rubrics and provides a step-by-step process for designing scoring rubrics for classroom use.

Mertler, Craig A. “Designing Scoring Rubrics for Your Classroom.” Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation 7, no. 25 (2001).

“Planning Curriculum for Learning World Languages”
Part 1 (PDF, 761 K) | Part 2 (PDF, 661 K) | Part 3 (PDF, 683 K)
The featured excerpts provide an overview of rubrics and include a sampling of real rubrics used to evaluate performance assessments. Read the excerpt specified for your grade level: elementary school (pp. 65-77), middle school (pp. 65-67, 78-83), or high school (pp. 65-67, 84-95).

Sandrock, Paul. Planning Curriculum for Learning World Languages, 65-95. Milwaukee, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2002.

Reading Questions

  1. What are some arguments in favor of open, nonsecretive assessments? How does this support the instructional strategy of “testing what you teach”?
  1. In what ways do performance assessments lend themselves to being authentic tasks that reflect the world outside the classroom?
  1. How do performance assessments help teachers maintain the proper balance between means (students exhibiting basic knowledge and skills such as grammar) and ends (students applying knowledge and skills within a meaningful, authentic context)?
  1. When might it be useful to provide students with model student work in a foreign language assessment? How might you give students the same preparation if no models exist?
  1. Cite a few instances in which holistic rubrics would be preferable in assessing foreign language learning. When would analytical rubrics be preferable?
  1. Given that the teacher decides how to convert rubric scores to grades, what factors would you consider in determining the conversion?
  1. In the Wisconsin curriculum units, read the section for the grade level you teach or the grade level of most interest to you. What questions do the examples raise for you?


Submit your written responses to the Reading Questions.