CAPS
Consortium for Assessing Performance Standards
A New Jersey FLAP Grant Project
   

*Jacqueline Gilbert, West Orange Public Schools
Mary Mackenzie, East Brunswick Public Schools
Martin Smith & Beatrice Yetman, Edison Public Schools
Carol Meulener & Rosanne Zeppieri, West Windsor-Plainsboro Public Schools*

The assessment tasks found on this web site are the product of three years of work by teachers in four New Jersey school districts. All work for this project was funded by a Foreign Language Assistance Program grant that was awarded in September, 2003. (For more information on the FLAP grant program see www.languagepolicy.org)

 

This grant project had several goals:

  • To provide research-based, high quality staff development to all world languages teachers in the consortium districts.;
  • To develop a database of thematically organized, integrated performance assessment tasks at the benchmark levels of proficiency, novice-mid, intermediate-low and pre-advanced as defined by the ACTFL Performance Guidelines for K-12 Learners;
  • To use the performance assessment tasks as a program evaluation tool to measure attainment of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for World Languages and the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning;
  • To disseminate assessment tasks to world language teachers in the State of New Jersey and nationwide to measure achievement of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for World Languages or the national Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century and;
  • To provide a design template for the development of benchmark assessments that can be utilized by school districts nationwide.

On this web site you can access the 70 assessment tasks developed, the rubrics developed for these tasks, samples of student work for some of the tasks, and answers to frequently asked questions.

 

How did these assessment tasks come about?

 These assessment tasks (called Thematically Organized Assessments – TOAs) are the product of the Consortium for Assessing Performance Standards (CAPS), comprised of four New Jersey public school districts; East Brunswick, Edison, West Orange and West Windsor-Plainsboro.

Foreign language supervisors in each of the four districts selected approximately 40 elementary, middle and high school foreign language teachers to be trained and then to develop these tasks. Development began in 2003 and was completed in spring, 2006. This group of teachers, along with their supervisors, participated in a three-year process that involved training, development, field-testing and final editing of the TOAs.

 

Training

To begin the process, teachers and supervisors participated in a three day training session. The purpose of this training was to ensure that all participants understood the concept of proficiency and how to assess for proficiency. The elementary teachers were trained on the use of the Student Oral Performance Assessment (SOPA) by trainers from the Center for Applied Linguistics. The middle and high school teachers training focused on the Oral Proficiency Interview-Modified (for Novice and Intermediate speakers) by trainers from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Subsequent to this initial training all participants learned about the design of performance-based assessment tasks and rubric development. Training sessions were comprehensive and intense and spanned an entire academic year. (For further information on assessment see the CARLA virtual assessment center at http://www.carla.umn.edu/assessment/VAC/)
Development

Following training, teachers participated in a carefully designed development process that included oversight and guidance by district supervisors as well as outside consultants responsible for training and development. An intense vetting, or professional review, process was used throughout multiple iterations of the TOAs as they made their way through the development pipeline.

 

Field-Testing

Development was followed by field-testing during which project teachers were required to use the tasks with their own students to determine how well they worked and to ascertain changes that needed to be made to improve the TOAs. Colleagues of project teachers were invited and encouraged to also field test the TOAs with their students adding another layer of feedback and information to the development process. After field testing their tasks, teachers shared samples of student work with colleagues and received feedback on the TOAs and their implementation.

 

Final Editing

Finally, supervisors from the four New Jersey districts, along with project consultants, reviewed, edited and modified the TOAs to make them available in an easily usable format for foreign language teachers outside the project.