Celebrating more than four decades of service to world language education both within and outside the United States


Performance Assessment

InterPrep is considered a national leader in the design and development of performance-based assessment.  Numerous projects and grants at national, state and local levels have afforded InterPrep rich opportunities to work with a wide audience in a number of settings to change the way foreign languages are assessed.

Over the past two decades, foreign language educators throughout the nation have fought hard to change how foreign languages are taught.  Consequently, many students find themselves today in classrooms where they are learning to use languages for real-life purposes.  Unfortunately, the great strides in “teaching for performance” have not been matched in “assessing for performance,” and many students experience frustration and a puzzling disconnect when they are confronted with paper and pencil tests, which are designed to test language knowledge rather than use. This great disconnect between the character of learning and assessing often times results in demotivated students who internalize mixed messages about what is important about language learning.

InterPrep’s principal, Greg Duncan, works with teachers to make connections between performance-based learning and assessment, establishing first a strong and clear rationale for performance-based assessment in 21st century classrooms.  Teachers are exposed to exemplary performance tasks and are asked to identify their characteristics and are then taught how to create their own tasks tied to their own local curriculum.  A knowledge base about rubrics is also a necessary ingredient in any discussion about performance-based assessment, and teachers learn the characteristics of effective rubrics, examine a number of exemplars, and learn how to make their own.

Below are specific examples of how InterPrep has facilitated the development of performance-based assessments.

Fayette County (GA) Public Schools

Situated just south of Atlanta, Fayette County is a comfortable suburban community known for its fine schools.  Serving a fairly homogeneous population, the district reaches over 22,000 students daily.

InterPrep was asked to work with two different cohorts of foreign language teachers during two different summer workshops to create performance-based assessments that would connect the kind of learning prescribed in Georgia’s Performance Standards for Foreign Language Learning and the assessment of that learning.  Spanning three days, each workshop exposed teachers to a rationale for performance-based assessment, exemplary performance-based assessment tasks and exemplary rubrics.  Teachers were then led through a task development protocol that consisted of:

          •Individual creation of a task tied to the local and Georgia curriculum;

          •Peer editing of the task;

          •Task revision based on the peer edit;

          •Whole-group editing of the revised task;

          •Task revision based on the group edit.

Completed tasks were then posted on the district’s intranet site for use by all its foreign language teachers. These tasks also serve as models for future assessment development by teachers in the district.

Consortium for the Assessment of Performance Standards

Four New Jersey school districts (East Brunswick, Edison, West Orange, and West Windsor-Plainsboro) were awarded a United States Department of Education Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant to produce performance-based assessment tasks that could easily be exported for use by schools throughout the nation.  In order to carry out their work, the four districts engaged the services of InterPrep’s leader, Greg Duncan, to serve as principal consultant to the three-year project.

Duncan’s main responsibility as lead consultant was to facilitate the development of the tasks and standardized rubrics that would be used in measuring student performance.  Unique to this project was the opportunity to work with the same group of world language teachers and supervisors over a three-year period.  This provided numerous opportunities to revisit concepts and issues and to deepen understanding.  The result was products that have withstood the test of time in terms of their effectiveness to inform and assist teachers throughout the nation and even abroad.

The task and rubric development protocol used by the teachers in this project consisted of the following:

          •Individual creation of clusters of 3 tasks tied to New Jersey and national standards;

          •Peer editing of the tasks;

          •Task revision based on the peer edit;

          •Whole-group editing of the revised tasks;

          •Task revision based on the group edit.

To honor its commitment to make these tasks and rubrics exportable to schools anywhere, the four-district consortium developed an extensive website with access to nearly 200 performance tasks and standardized rubrics that are a result of the project.  Visit http://flenj.org/CAPS/?page=parent to see the results of this prolific project.