To directly test the students language skills there is multiple ways under alternative assessment. Using paper tests only tests the students knowledge of the language but with alternative assessment the student is able to show their language ability in many ways that make use of the target language for real actual purposes.
Alternative assessment has four kinds of assessments. They are:
- Self-record keeping so that students take responsibility and self-direct their own learning.
- Peer feedback and assessment so that students motivate and encourage one another by providing a second judgement or assistance.
- Portfolio so students can demonstrate what they have learned in self evolving learning workbook to themselves, teacher and other students.
- Performance assessment so students can directly display what they have know so far in the target language in a variety of skills in class presentation and classroom group work.
Other alternative assessments are:
- Dialogue or learning journals
1. Expanding on the four kinds of alternative assessment, in self-record keeping is a simple way for all student to keep track of where they stand by using charts. It is a simple assessment done by checking off when they have completed a task like turn in an assignment along a baseline or list of tasks that evolve. Also by providing a guideline or a model displayed in class like on a wall that students can refer to for help, they can track their own progress for different assignments.
2. Peer feedback and assessment is great in large classrooms and in general in helping the entire classroom morale and set classroom goal expectations. Emphasis on clear classroom goal expectations must be set for peer-assessment to work so students can help students get to accomplish class tasks. We want student-to-student communication to occur and students to correct each other in the target language. As teachers we must pair students and groups according to accompanying skill level so each group is equally skilled in all language skills in helping their own. A good example of pairing students in reading task. Each student can read a part of a story while the other listens and corrects. The teacher checks on each pair as a resource expert and keeps track on time when student switch turns reading. The goal is for students of practice reading, pronunciations skills and understanding/knowledge of the storyline in English. This is a great example of peer feedback and assessment because both students help one another tell a fun story using multiple skills (keep on each other on task, correcting each other, practicing speaking) while asking for help when needed with encouragement and motivation from one another and teacher.
3. Portfolios are a way for student to amass knowledge (collect work) during their language learning journey. The portfolios are the responsibility of the student to help them become responsible of their work, record keep and library to refer to. All students at whatever level should have a portfolio to submit work into to help themselves, teachers and parents to check on their work in progress until the end of the term and there should be clear guidelines in maintaining a portfolio. Binders are the best way to collect work, marked with an index so teachers and parents can check on different tasks and work progress. An example of a student portfolio is to have a binder with lists of vocabulary words and place for story writing, The portfolio binder then becomes not only a story book but a reference for words for the story too to use; mini-story book with dictionary. Writing a story could be difficult at first if the student lacks creativity or knowledge. Writing about something the student enjoys doing is good start. At specified times, the portfolios can be formatulatively graded and at the end summative graded to give feedback to the student and parent.
4. Performance assessment is a one of the larger tasks with multiple language skills used in practice. This is usually a class performance or class act depending on the difficulty or language skills tested. For example students at more simpler level would act out a scene from a play. Students would participate in one act while other students would grade them and so on. This requires the teacher to coordinate groups, props and assign roles to individual students. A more difficult group performance assessment is for students to be assigned in groups, assigned a question whether the issue falls into one of two categories based on a global theme. For example, the topic of studying and exploring human genetics. The categories would be 1. Forward for Science and 2. Backward for Civil Rights. Here are a couple of questions groups could and place into the proper category.
Question 1: Genetic health checks for employees? This would fall into ‘Backward for Civil Rights’ because it would cause alarm for job discrimination even though it could save companies money in insurance.
Question 2: Genetic health check for parents for procreation? This would fall into ‘Forward for Science’ because it would help parent choose to procreate given their chances of a healthy baby.
Class participation is key to practice multiple skills. At simpler levels acting out plays is a good way to teach basic language skills and at harder levels critical thinking skills are taught in the target language; thinking in English in an open discussion. A number of skills can be assessed depending on the specific language skill practiced.
There are a number of skills to score like pronunciation, fluency, clarity, loudness, speed, body language and argumentative statements in open discussion. Depending on the task we can look out for a lot of skills to be assessed.
In doing alternative assessment it takes a lot of practice for student to effectively use what language skills they know together. It is a progressive process from self-record keeping, peer-feedback and assessment, portfolios and performance assessment. All of these assessments will eventually create a student who is more motivated to use and show their knowledge of the target language.