This week I tested my first official Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) with my 8th grade class. An IPA assesses the 3 modes of communication  (Interpretive, Interpersonal  and Presentational) using a cyclical approach (1). I used the “Integrated Performance Assessment Manual” from ACTFL ©2003 as a guide (2). I also used the rubrics that we designed in the summer of 2012 based on the French AP rubrics (3).

Click for the Assessment and the conversational and presentational rubrics I used.

This does by no mean make me the IPA expert. IPAs have been around for 10 years and I am just getting started. Below are my findings and next steps:

Interpretive Assessment (A French school blog post with an introduction and a  cafeteria menu):

1) Finding an authentic text that is within my students’ ability but also presents a challenge is a time consuming exercise. However, it is fundamental to present our students with authentic (real life) materials to develop their proficiency. And it is so much more exciting!

2) Providing feed-back on the Interpretive assessment before moving on to the Interpersonal task is critical so that all students are on the same page in terms of understanding.

3) Scoring the interpretive task proved difficult using the ACTFL Novice Learner rubrics. Do students have to meet expectations in all 3 parts of the interpretive assessment? Is 2 out of 3 acceptable? We will need to define a “black and white” rule to score this part.

Interpersonal Assessment (A conversation about the food we eat in our cafeteria):

1) Spontaneous conversation – no preparation!

2) My conversation rubric worked perfectly for this exercise. I just need to fine tune it to match more closely to the ACTFL rubric (add strategies to negotiate meaning).

3) Administrating the conversation can be tricky if you have a big class – use of  a recording device recommended! For my small class, I had groups working on the presentational task while others were doing their conversation, it worked fine.

Presentational Assessment (A presentation comparing and contrasting what French and American children eat at school) :

1) Preparation and rehearsal are expected. For level 1, I gave them 15 min to prepare a short script. Then we brainstormed strategies to ensure the presentation was organized and engaging. Finally, I let them practice with peers.  This was a breakthrough activity for me and my class! I had no idea I could get my 8th graders to do such a nice job with an oral presentation in the target language.  They had an introduction, some cohesiveness, and a conclusion. I felt I was really maximizing their Zone of Proximal Development (ZDP) (4) through reviewing strategies with me and rehearsing with peers.

2) I designed a presentational rubric using the conversational one but instead of a “Maintains the Conversation” section, I had an “Impact” section (as recommended by ACTFL). It worked like a charm.

3) Read from your script or not? I struggled with this question but in the end, the rubric provided the answer. I allowed my students to have their script but since they had to work on keeping the audience engaged, they had to keep eye contact with us and this was assessed by the rubric. I feel this is appropriate for level 1.

4) I did not assess the presentation for cultural understanding but I think I should. I will add it to the rubric.

Other findings:

1) Metacognition in English! It is OK to speak English to brainstorm strategies and improve our work.

2) The ACTFL rubrics are technical, not student-oriented at all. If we want this exercise to be improve student achievement, we need student friendly rubrics so that they can understand the expectations and also self-assess.