Assessment in Modern Languages

Students are assessed on their language performance using a standards-based rubric.  Each course has a performance target aligned with the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.

Explanation of Grading

In all modern language courses, we grade with standards-based rubrics designed to assess students on language proficiency and skill.  Students earn a B on a performance assessment when their work meets the performance target.  In order to earn an A, students need to “level up” their performance.  By using the rubrics as an instructional tool, providing targeted, descriptive feedback, and asking students to reflect on their work regularly, the “level ups” are attainable by any student.

Standards-Based Grading and Term Weights:
In order to move students through the proficiency continuum from Novice to Advanced,  students must retain and build upon their language they have learned and acquired. For this reason, the department believes that for us the averaging of grades over the course of the year is neither effective nor fair.

As an illustration, consider the following sets of grades:

STUDENT 1: A (at the end of the first quarter), C (at the midyear), F (at the end of year)
STUDENT 2: F (at the end of the first quarter), C (at the midyear), A (at the end of year)

The averages in both cases would be about a C, yet it is obvious that Student 1 is penalized for such averaging, when if fact she or he has actually mastered the material by the end of the year. Student 1 has poor control. Progressive grading is standards-based, emphasizing the most recent assessment. Student 1 would receive a grade below C and Student 2 would receive a grade above C. This system is not only fairer, but also aligns well with our efforts to teach students to embrace a growth mindset.

High School Term weights are as follows:
Term 1:  14%
Term 2:  22%
Term 3:  29%
Term 4:  35%

For the 2020-2021 school year, we are using semester grades only.  The weights will be 40% for semester 1 and 60% for semester 2.  Standards-based grading practices weigh the most recent assessment the most because it is the best representation of a student’s performance as measured against clearly-defined performance indicators.

Questions regarding these policies may be directed to the Classical and Modern Language Department Head.

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