Proficiency Goals

AKA Where should my students be at the end of the year??

There are lots of answers out there to this question.
There’s the JCPS scale that tells us exactly how to turn proficiency levels into letter grades:

There’s the North Carolina standards that have all sorts of excellent suggestions based on type of language (classical? alphabetical? logographic?) and type of program (is it a FLES program? Do the kids start at 9th grade?). I CTRL+F ‘d and searched “novice” to find the various charts. The state of Ohio gives this whole page with sample rubrics, scoring guides, and gradebook conversions, and gives targets very similar to the North Carolina suggested goals.

In a perfect world, that would be great. Every student would increase roughly one level per year and everyone would be in about the same place and every student could be easily graded on the same scale.

This year in Spanish 3, I have a couple of students who are still stuck on Novice High in their writing (and other modes are similar). They’re so close to pushing into Intermediate, but they’re just not there yet. I also have one student who regularly demonstrates Intermediate High abilities in writing (and speaking; her interpersonal hovers around Intermediate Mid).

This year for grades in Spanish 3, the first semester I required an Intermediate Low for an A and second semester I bumped it to Intermediate Mid. Basically that means that I have a few students who have barely maintained a B-/C average this year and a few who have never had to worry about getting less than an A on any graded assessment we’ve done. Overall that’s a huge improvement over previous years when I’ve been more focused on grammar.

Frankly,the B/C students bother me less than the A students. They see that there’s room for improvement and, if they’re willing to put in the work, they improve. What I don’t want is for my A students to think they’ve arrived and that they don’t need to work anymore. Thankfully, my top performers this year are also willing learners (they might not think so, but they are). For the most part, they want to improve for the sake of improving. Yes, they also want an A, but they’re getting that easily. However, in the future, I may not be guaranteed students who are motivated simply by learning. I don’t want students to become complacent just because they’ve hit this year’s goal – there’s always room for growth!

So I had an idea. I’m thinking that, once kids get to the goal for a particular semester, an “A” on the next assessment will require one level of growth. If they maintain, it’s a B, and if they go down one level, a C, etc.

That way, I’m still maintaining minimum expectations for each level, but even the top performers have motivation to keep improving. Those kids who are obsessed with As will be motivated to work hard, and our weekly Aventura and Blog posts will help them maintain the overall grade they want.

I’m not sure this is what I want to do yet. I’m still thinking about it, but I like the idea of upping the expectations for the kids who are capable of it. My goal is to push them anyway, regardless of their level, so I’m hoping that this will help them push themselves as well.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. MmeF says:

    Another route that you could go is requiring students to show their level “plus some.” I forget where I originally read about that idea, but they said that to get an A, you need to be showing intermediate mid, PLUS some characteristics of intermediate high. This way, students are still learning and growing, even though you don’t expect them to jump an entire level. Just a thought, take it or leave it. :]

    1. Melanie says:

      Oh, I really like this idea! I’m going to have to give this some definite consideration this summer! Thanks for the great suggestion!

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