Authentic performance tasks are central to oral language assessment, as they allow students to use language reflecting real life situations in a meaningful way. The creation of authentic oral performance-based assessment tasks involves several essential steps.

Teachers should:

1. Determine the purpose for the assessment. If the purpose is to place students at the right level of instruction, the assessment will be different than if the purpose is to diagnose the instructional needs of individual students.

2. Select the objectives of the assessment. Teachers have to reflect on what they want their students to know or to be able to do. They must choose whether they want to concentrate on one skill (speaking), or if they want to assess several skills at the same time.

It is easier to decide the specific task and to establish the scoring criteria once the objectives are clearly defined. For this reason, it is recommended to select the objectives prior to selecting the activity.

3. Design the task they want to use to have their students show their attainment of the skill(s) and appropriate content. Teachers will need to create an authentic task that students would actually do if they were living or traveling in the foreign country.

In addition, it is important to select a task that can be accomplished at many levels, so that it will be accessible to the full range of students in the classroom. Furthermore, the assessment needs to be tailored to show what students are expected to know. If the goal is to know that students have gotten facts, asking simple questions will be sufficient. However, if the goal is to know that students can infer, then they will need to have opportunities to elaborate in some way.

4. Think about the management of the assessment. Teachers will need to select materials, determine if items are to be done individually or in small group, and for how long, determine how to collect responses - tapes, written responses, observations, etc. It will be essential to provide an opportunity for students to be familiar with format (CALLA Handbook, p. 105).

5. Establish the scoring criteria for assessing student achievement. Teachers will need to think about the kind of performance they want to observe in order to meet the objective(s). They may create their own scoring criteria. Also, they may want to have self-and/or peer-assessment as part of the overall assessment.

6. Determine point values or grading scales for your scoring criteria. This may involve giving different weights to different criteria.

7. Interpret the results of the assessment activity according to the purpose of the assessment. Results can be used by students and parents to focus on areas for improvement. Since the assessment is broken down into specific criteria, students can see more clearly where improvements could be made. Also, teachers can use the results to determine the focus of future activities.

Adapted from the Fairfax County Public Schools Publication A.S.A.P. Alternative Strategies for Assessing Performance


<< Back | Table of Contents | Next >>