Integrated Assessment in Modern Languages
At various times during students’ study of modern languages here at Wellesley, they will be evaluated not just on what they know of the language (vocabulary and grammar), but also on what they can do with the language in presentational, interpretive, and interpersonal communication. That is to say, mastery of vocabulary and grammar will be tested in a context. We call this integrated or holistic assessment. Among the many advantages to this system of assessment is that students will be able to understand their precise strengths and weaknesses in their language development. Another is that all teachers of a given language participate in the grading of major exams, thus assuring a fair evaluation of achievement. Strengths in one area will offset weaknesses in another. Thus students’ chances of success are much greater and the evaluation of their language proficiency will be more accurate.Integrated assessment reflects the current thinking of language educators on both statewide and nationwide levels. We believe it offers the best feedback and preparation for adults in the twenty-first century.
Explanation of Grading
In all classical and modern language courses we grade with standards-based rubrics designed to assess students on language proficiency and skill. A (Advanced/Meets standard in a superior manner); B (Proficient/Adequately meets standard); C (Needs improvement/Almost meets standard); D-F (Does not meet standard…Unacceptable). Percentage grading, which reflects quantity, not quality, is not used.
The nature of study and mastery in virtually all foreign language courses is such that a student is required both to retain all material learned from the onset of study and to build upon these to achieve greater mastery. For this reason, the department believes that for us the averaging of grades over the course of the year makes little sense.
As an illustration, consider the following sets of grades:
A (at the end of the first quarter), C (at the midyear), F (at the end of year) for student one.
Consider the reverse for student two (F, C, and A).
The averages in both instances would be about a C, yet it is obvious that student two is penalized for such averaging, as he or she has actually mastered virtually all of the material by the end of the year. Student one would be shown to be in average control of the materials, whereas in truth he or she has poor control. Sequential grading is standards-based. Student one would receive a grade below C and student two would receive a grade above C. This system is not only fairer in the case of sequential courses such as ours, but also offers constant encouragement to students to try their best and to improve. Conversely, it penalizes students who perform well at the outset and then choose to rest upon their laurels with the expectation that their earlier achievement will preclude a failing grade in the course.
Term weights are as follows:
Term 1: 10%
Term 2: 18%
Term 3: 25%
Term 4: 31%
(Final Exam: 16%)
Questions regarding either of these policies may be directed to the Classical and Modern Language Department Head.