Proficiency Based Teaching and Learning
Belief Statement: North Salem High School has adopted proficiency-based teaching, learning, and assessment as a tool for equity, ensuring consistent instruction, assessment, and high expectations for all students, while increasing transparency of instruction and grading practices.
Learning a language naturally lends itself to proficiency-based teaching and learning. What proficiency looks like for Spanish is actually nothing new. Speaking and writing a language is by its very nature something that lends itself to performance-based learning and assessment.
The North Salem High School proficiency scale will used with standard specific rubrics for summative and formative assessments, as well as for general understanding of proficiency. Spanish students will be assessed in three categories: Interpretive Communication, Interpersonal Communication, and Presentational Communication. Standards for cultural competence are embedded as well.
4. Exceeds - Student demonstrates in depth inferences and applications.
3. Proficient - Student demonstrates the expected understanding and skills.
2. Nearly Proficient - Student demonstrates developing understanding and skills.
1. Not Proficient - Student demonstrates limited or no understanding and/or skills.
How to measure proficiency in World Languages has been refined over the last thirty years by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
You may have noticed that our Spanish course materials have "Proficiency Goal" arrows on the pages. What do those mean? Which is the same question as: what does speaking Spanish look like at various levels? (Adapted from: ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines)
Novice Level (Spanish 1 & 2) - Can-Do statements
Novice-level speakers can communicate short messages on highly predictable, everyday topics that affect them directly. They do so primarily through the use of isolated words and phrases that have been encountered, memorized, and recalled. Novice-level speakers may be difficult to understand even by the most sympathetic conversation partners accustomed to non-native speech.
Novice Low (Spanish 1 Semester 1)
Speakers at the Novice Low sublevel have no real functional ability and, because of their pronunciation, may be unintelligible. Given adequate time and familiar cues, they may be able to exchange greetings, give their identity, and name a number of familiar objects from their immediate environment. They are unable to perform functions or handle topics pertaining to the Intermediate level, and cannot therefore participate in a true conversational exchange. This is where most Spanish 1 students begin their journey.
Novice Mid (Spanish 1 Sem 2 through Spanish 2 Sem 1)
Speakers at the Novice Mid sublevel communicate minimally by using a number of isolated words and memorized phrases limited by the particular context in which the language has been learned. When responding to direct questions, they may say only two or three words at a time or give an occasional stock answer. They pause frequently as they search for simple vocabulary or attempt to recycle their own and their conversation partner’s words. Novice Mid speakers may be understood with difficulty even by sympathetic conversation partners accustomed to dealing with non-natives. When called on to handle topics and perform functions associated with the Intermediate level, they frequently resort to repetition, words from their native language, or silence.
Novice High (Spanish 2 Semester 2)
Speakers at the Novice High sublevel are able to handle a variety of tasks pertaining to the Intermediate level, but are unable to sustain performance at that level. They are able to manage successfully a number of uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward social situations. Conversation is restricted to a few of the predict able topics necessary for survival in the target language culture, such as basic personal information, basic objects, and a limited number of activities, preferences, and immediate needs. Novice High speakers respond to simple, direct questions or requests for information. They are also able to ask a few formulaic questions.
Novice High speakers are able to express personal meaning by relying heavily on learned phrases or recombinations of these and what they hear from their conversation partner. Their language consists primarily of short and some times incomplete sentences in the present, and may be hesitant or inaccurate. On the other hand, since their language often consists of expansions of learned material and stock phrases, they may sometimes sound surprisingly fluent and accurate. Pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax may be strongly influenced by the first language. Frequent misunderstandings may arise but, with repetition or rephrasing, Novice High speakers can generally be understood by sympathetic conversation partners used to non-natives. When called on to handle a variety of topics and perform functions pertaining to the Intermediate level, a Novice High speaker can sometimes respond in intelligible sentences, but will not be able to sustain sentence-level discourse.
Intermediate Level Speakers (Spanish 3 & 4)
Speakers at the Intermediate level are distinguished primarily by their ability to create with the language when talking about familiar topics related to their daily life. They are able to recombine learned material in order to express personal meaning. Intermediate-level speakers can ask simple questions and can handle a straightforward survival situation. They produce sentence-level language, ranging from discrete sentences to strings of sentences, typically in present time. Intermediate-level speakers are understood by conversation partners who are accustomed to dealing with non-native learners of the language.
Speakers at the Intermediate Low sublevel are able to handle successfully a limited number of uncomplicated communicative tasks by creating with the language in straightforward social situations. Conversation is restricted to some of the concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for survival in the target-language culture. These topics relate to basic personal information; for example, self and family, some daily activities and personal preferences, and some immediate needs, such as ordering food and making simple purchases. At the Intermediate Low sublevel, speakers are primarily reactive and struggle to answer direct questions or requests for information. They are also able to ask a few appropriate questions. Intermediate Low speakers manage to sustain the functions of the Intermediate level, although just barely.
Intermediate Low speakers express personal meaning by combining and recombining what they know and what they hear from their conversation partners into short statements and discrete sentences. Their responses are often filled with hesitancy and inaccuracies as they search for appropriate linguistic forms and vocabulary while attempting to give form to the message. Their speech is characterized by frequent pauses, ineffective reformulations and self-corrections. Their pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax are strongly influenced by their first language. In spite of frequent misunderstandings that may require repetition or rephrasing, Intermediate Low speakers can generally be understood by sympathetic conversation partners, particularly by those accustomed to dealing with non-natives.
Speakers at the Intermediate Mid sublevel are able to handle successfully a variety of uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward social situations. Conversation is generally limited to those predictable and concrete exchanges necessary for survival in the target culture. These include personal information related to self, family, home, daily activities, interests and personal preferences, as well as physical and social needs, such as food, shopping, travel, and lodging.
Intermediate Mid speakers tend to function reactively, for example, by responding to direct questions or requests for information. However, they are capable of asking a variety of questions when necessary to obtain simple information to satisfy basic needs, such as directions, prices, and services. When called on to perform functions or handle topics at the Advanced level, they provide some information but have difficulty linking ideas, manipulating time and aspect, and using communicative strategies, such as circumlocution.
Intermediate Mid speakers are able to express personal meaning by creating with the language, in part by combining and recombining known elements and conversational input to produce responses typically consisting of sentences and strings of sentences. Their speech may contain pauses, reformulations, and self-corrections as they search for adequate vocabulary and appropriate language forms to express themselves. In spite of the limitations in their vocabulary and/or pronunciation and/or grammar and/or syntax, Intermediate Mid speakers are generally understood by sympathetic conversation partners accustomed to dealing with non-natives.
Intermediate High speakers are able to converse with ease and confidence when dealing with the routine tasks and social situations of the Intermediate level. They are able to handle successfully uncomplicated tasks and social situations requiring an exchange of basic information related to their work, school, recreation, particular interests, and areas of competence.
Intermediate High speakers can handle a substantial number of tasks associated with the Advanced level, but they are unable to sustain performance of all of these tasks all of the time. Intermediate High speakers can narrate and describe in all major time frames using connected discourse of paragraph length, but not all the time. Typically, when Intermediate High speakers attempt to perform Advanced-level tasks, their speech exhibits one or more features of breakdown, such as the failure to carry out fully the narration or description in the appropriate major time frame, an inability to maintain paragraph-length discourse, or a reduction in breadth and appropriateness of vocabulary.
Intermediate High speakers can generally be understood by native speakers unaccustomed to dealing with non-natives, although interference from another language may be evident (e.g., use of code-switching, false cognates, literal translations), and a pattern of gaps in communication may occur.
Intercultural Communciation Benchmarks for the Novice Level
Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels
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Special thanks to Jefferson County KY for sharing its JCPS World Language Assessment Documents and granting us permission to use their resources.