I have long struggled with the idea of “authentic” assessment. As a language teacher this not just that the activities are contextually or culturally ‘authentic’. It goes further in ensuring that students know and understand how they will be evaluated. Constantly looking for rubrics – and different rubrics all the time became an issue. A new colleague, Cara Babson, brought my solution. She is trained in evaluation used by the Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF); a certification of French language ability administered by the French government. The rubrics used by this program allow students to be consistently evaluated, on criteria that they understand. They have now become my 3 base rubrics. My Rubrics
In the Discussion Rubric the focus is on the ability to ask/answer questions, language skills and facilitating communication. I use it for all levels of learning – adjusting the expectations to suit the level. Initially, especially with beginners, the level 5 is not used – as it is difficult to ‘exceed’ with limited skills. The Writing rubric not only looks to language skills and organization but also reflects whether the student actually followed directions as laid out. The Presentation rubric not only focus on language choice and pronunciation, but also on a developing sense of spontaneity. In all risk is rewarded and the ability to make small errors means that students don’t ‘fear the mistake’.
The rubrics work because what is being evaluated is very clear. Students are involved in the discussion of what it means to ‘meet’ and to ‘exceed’ expectations. They know that delivery of current material, done well – is a satisfactory or good level. To attain an ‘exceeds’ they my incorporate good use of prior material – be that grammar or vocabulary. I have also found them useful for self-evaluation. This is especially true for inter-active oral activities. Changing the ‘student’ to “I” in the discussion rubric allows for quick student feedback on how they feel about their interaction with classmates in the target language.
These three rubrics, adaptable for almost class situation give my students the comfort of knowing how they are being evaluated – what their strengths are and where they can improve. It helps to create engaged, enthusiastic, risk-taking learners – and my classroom is benefiting from it!