Why Assess?

Achievement, Performance, Proficiency

Achievement: An achievement test is used to measure what the learner knows within a lesson or unit or level of instruction. The primary purpose is to determine the degree to which the learner has met the course objectives (Brown, 2010).

Performance: In performance assessments, learners perform actual or simulated real-world tasks drawing on knowledge and skills that have been practiced during a unit or several units. Often performance tasks are interactive involving listening and speaking, reading and writing (Brown, 2010). In 2012, ACTFL released Performance Descriptors for Language Learners, available for free download at www.ACTFL.org. The descriptors “are designed to describe language performance that is the result of explicit instruction in an instructional setting” (ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners, 2012, p.3).

Proficiency: A proficiency assessment is not based on a specific lesson or unit or course . Instead, it assesses overall ability in listening, speaking, reading, writing (Brown, 2010). In 2012, ACTFL released Proficiency Guidelines, available for free download at www.ACTFL.org. “The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines are descriptions of what individuals can do with language in terms of speaking, writing, listening, and reading in real-world situations in a spontaneous and non-rehearsed context” (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, 2012, p. 3).

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