Assessing Language Learners' Communication Skills via Authentic Communicative Performance Tasks

July 17–21, 2023
1-week in-person summer institute

"Performance is effectively assessed within tasks that test learners' knowledge and skills in real-world situations, that is, in 'authentic' contexts in which students use the language in their lives both within and outside of the classroom." (Shrum & Glisan)

Donna Clementi

This institute opens with a discussion of “balanced assessment” and an in-depth review of a variety of assessments to identify their purpose, effectiveness, and practicality. Working together, participants will create a graphic organizer showing the components of a balanced approach to world language assessment. After reviewing characteristics of language performance at the Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced levels for the Three Modes of Communication, participants will create a repertoire of strategies that move learners from one level of proficiency to the next. 

The second part of the institute will focus on the evaluation of the learners' performance. Drawing on the performance descriptors identified by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), and the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA), participants will identify the domains (vocabulary, language control, text type, etc.) to evaluate learner performance on various tasks. Using model rubric scales and scoring guides, they will evaluate examples of learner performance. As a capstone to the week, participants will apply their learning in the development of a standards-based Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) including both formative and summative tasks along with appropriate scoring guides and rubrics.

Program Schedule (9am-4pm)
Day 1
  • Balanced Assessment
Day 2
  • Characteristics of Novice, Intermediate Advanced Levels of Performance
  • Strategies to Move from Novice to Intermediate to Advanced Levels of Proficiency 
Day 3
  • Performance Descriptors: ACTFL, CEFR, WIDA
  • Selecting Appropriate Domains for Evaluating Learner Performance
  • Designing/Adapting Rubrics and Formative Assessments for Various Tasks
Day 4
  • Designing a Standards-Based IPA and Accompanying Scoring Guides and Rubrics
Day 5
  • Completing the Design of an IPA
  • Sharing IPAs with Colleagues

After this institute, you will be able to:

  • Compare characteristics of performance and proficiency as they relate to the meaning of "performance towards proficiency" in the world language classroom;

  • Design receptive and productive communicative tasks for beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of proficiency;

  • Identify commonalities among the ACTFL, CEFR, and WIDA performance descriptors for world language and ESL learning contexts;
  • Evaluate the quality of several performance assessment tasks and rubrics, making suggestions for improvement as appropriate;
  • Create formative assessments used in daily lessons to monitor learner progress in communication skills; and

  • Design a standards-based integrated performance assessment (IPA) with appropriate rubrics and scoring guides.


Donna Clementi is a well-known consultant and national speaker on curriculum and assessment development. With more than 30 years of experience teaching French grades K-12, Dr. Clementi is currently a world language methods instructor at Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin.

Target Audience
This institute is designed for foreign language and ESL teachers at the late elementary through the postsecondary level, as well as teacher educators and preservice teachers. The institute is not intended for immersion teachers.

Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship Program–NEW!

Logo - PriorityThe Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship program is designed to promote equity and access to affordable professional development for world language educators who are currently teaching at a Community College, Minority Serving Institution, or Historically Black College/University in the United States and/or are currently teaching a Less Commonly Taught Language in the United States. The program provides funding for selected teachers in these categories to attend a CARLA Summer Institute for no charge.

Learn more and apply by March 17, 2023 on the Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship website.

Quote MarksRight quote marksNever has a week so packed with learning and work flown by so quickly for me! I am so grateful I had the opportunity to attend this Summer Institute. There is nothing invigorating in quite the same way as being in a room of people who share the same professional passion and being given the chance to talk, question, and collaborate together..
Sara White, 2022 Institute Participant
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