Source: Brown, D. (2004) Language Assessment: Principles and
Classroom Practices. New York: Pearson Longman.
Jenny C. Acevedo and Rocío C. Oviedo
Universidad Industrial de Santander
In Chapter 1, an important distinction was made between testing and
• Tests are formal procedures, usually
administered within strict time
limitations, to sample the performance of
a test-taker in a specified domain.
• Assessment connotes a much broader
concept in that most of the time when
teachers are teaching, they are also
assessing. Assessment includes all
occasions from informal impromptu
observations and comments up to and
‘One of the disturbing things about
tests is the extent to which many
people accept the results
uncritically, while others believe
that all testing is invidious. But
tests are simply measurement
tools: It is the use to which we
put their results that can be
appropiate or inappropiate’.
A new proposal that emerged in the
The proposal was to assemble
additional measurement of
students, in order to triangulate
data about students.
Portfolios Journals Observation Self-
The characteristics of alternatives in
Brown and Hudson proposed a new
terminology: instead of Alternative
assessment, they changed it to
‘Alternatives’ in assessment.
All tests are assessments
but, not all assessments
The characteristics of alternatives in
1. They require students to perform, create, produce, or do something
2. They use real-world contexts or simulations
3. They are nonintrusive
4. They allow students to be assessed on what they normally do in class
5. They use tasks that represent meaningful instructional activities
6. They focus on processes as well as products
7. They tap into higher-level thinking and problem-solving skills
8. Provide information about both the strengths and weaknesses of students
9. They are multiculturally senstive when properly administered
10. Ensure that people, not machines, do the scoring, using human judgement
11. Encourage open disclosure of standards and rating criteria
12. Call upon teachers to perform new instructional and assessment roles
Dilemma in standardized and alternatives in
Formal standardized tests are almost by definition
highly practical, reliable instruments. They are
designed to minimize time and money on the part of
test designer and test-taker, and to be accurate in
Alternatives such as portfolios or conferencing with
students on drafts of written work, or
observations of learners over time all require
considerable time and effort on the part of the
teacher and the student.
Practicality/reliability and washback/authenticity relationship
implies productive, observable
skills, such as speaking and
writing, of content-valid tasks.
1. Students make a constructed response
2. They engage in higher- order thinking , with open –ended tasks
3. Tasks are meaningful , engaging, and authentic
4. Tasks call for the integration of language skills
5. Both process and product are assessed
6. Depth of a student’s mastery is emphasized over breadth
Procedures for performance- based
Performance-based assessment procedures need to be treated with
the same rigor as traditional tests. This implies that teachers should
• state the overall goal of the performance,
• specify the objectives (criteria) of the performance in detail,
• prepare students for performance in stepwise progressions,
• use a reliable evaluation form, checklist, or rating sheet,
• treat performances as opportunities for giving feedback and provide
that feedback systematically, and
• if possible, utilize self- and peer-assessments judiciously.
A portfolio is a purposeful collection of students work that demonstrates
students’ efforts, progress, and achievements in given areas
(Genesee and Upshur, 1996).
Portfolios include materials such as:
• essays and compositions in draft and final forms;
• reports, project outlines;
• audio and/or video recordings of presentations, demonstrations, etc.
• journals, diaries, and other personal reflections;
• tests, test scores, and written homework exercises;
• self- and peer-assessments--comments, evaluations, and checklists.
Atributes of portfolios
Gottlieb (1995) suggested a developmental scheme for
considering the nature and purpose of portfolios, using
the acronym CRADLE to designate six possible
attributes of a portfolio:
• Collecting: an expression of students lives and identities.
• Reflecting: thinking about experiences and activities.
• Assessing: evaluating quality and development over time.
• Documenting: demonstrating student achievement.
• Linking: connecting student and teacher, parent, community, and peers.
• Evaluating: generating responsible outcomes.
Steps and guidelines
1. State objectives clearly
2. Give guidelines on what materials to include
3. Communicate assessment criteria to students
4. Designate time within the curriculum for portfolio development.
5. Establish periodic schedules for review and conferencing
6. Designate an accessible place to keep portfolios.
7. Provide positive washback when giving final assessments.
It is inappropriate to reduce the personalized and creative process of
compiling a portfolio to a number or letter grade. Instead, teachers
should offer a qualitative evaluation such a final appraisal of the
work, with questions for self-assessment of a project, and a
narrative evaluation of perceived strengths and weakness.
In groups you are going to implement , as a teacher, a portfolio on your
class. Using the guidelines on pages (257-259), you are going to plan your
portfolio following at least 5 out of the 7 steps. You will have 10 minutes.
• A journal is a log of one’s thought , feelings, reactions,
assessments, ideas, or progress, toward goals, usually
written with little attention to structure, form, or
• Journals obviously serve important pedagogical purposes
: practice in the mechanics of writing , using writing as a
thinking process, individualization , and communications
with the teacher .
Steps for journals
1. Sensitively introduce students to the concept of journal writing.
2. State the objective(s) of the journal: Language-learning logs, Grammar
journals, Responses to readings, strategies-based learning logs, Self-
assessment reflections, etc.
3. Give guidelines on what kinds of topics to include.
4. Carefully specify the criteria for assessing or grading journals.
5. Provide optimal feedback in your responses: cheerleading feedback,
instructional feedback, or reality-check feedback. McNamara, (1998, p.39)
6. Designate appropriate time frames and schedules for review.
7. Provide formative, washback-giving final comments.
Conferences and interviews
Conferences are not limited to drafts of written work. It must assume
that the teacher plays the role of a facilitator and guide, not of an
administrator, of a formal assessment.
• Commenting on drafts of essays and reports
• Reviewing portfolios
• Responding journals
• Advising on a student’s plan for an oral presentation
• Giving feedback on the results of performance on a test
• Assessing general progress in a course.
• Assess the student’s oral production
• Seeks to discover a student’s learning styles and preferences
• Asks a student to assess his or her own performance
• Requests an evaluation of a course
Guidelines for conferences and interviews
1. Offer an initial atmosphere of warmth and anxiety-lowering (warm-
2. Begin with relatively simple questions.
3. Continue with level-check and probe questions, but adapt to the
interviewee as needed.
4. Frame questions simply and directly.
5. Focus on only one factor for each question. Do not combine several
objectives in the same question.
6. Be prepared to repeat or reframe questions that are not understood.
7. Wind down with friendly and reassuring dosing comments.
Observation is a systematic, planned procedure for
real-time, almost furtive recording of student
verbal and nonverbal behavior.
One of the objectives of such observation is to
assess students without their awareness (and
possible consequent anxiety) of the observation
so that the naturalness of their linguistic
performance is maximized.
• Sentence-level oral production skills
pronunciation of target sounds,
intonation, etc.- grammatical features
(verb tenses, question formation, etc.)
• Discourse-level skills (conversation
rules, turn-taking, and other macroskills)
• Interaction with classmates (cooperation,
frequency of oral production)-
• Frequency of student-initiated responses
(whole class, group work)
Steps for observations
• Determine the specific objectives of the observations
• Decide how many students will be observed at one time
• Set up the logistics for making unnoticed observations
• Design a system for recording observed performances
• Do not overestimate the number of different elements
you can observe at one time
• Plan how many observations you will make
• Determine specifically how you will use the results
SELF- AND PEER-ASSESSMENT
Do you think learners are able
to monitor their own
performance and use those
conclusion for corrections?
Self-assessment derives from
principles of second language
• Intrinsic Motivations
• Cooperative Learning (peer-
Not having the
tools to make an
Being too harsh or
Not being able to
discern their own
Types of self- and peer-assessment:
1. Assessment of (a specific) performance:
• Students monitors him/herself
• Give evaluation of performance
• Takes place immediately or very soon
after the performance
2. Indirect assessment of (general) competence:
3. Metacognitive assessment (for setting goals):
Personal goal settings:
• Fosters intrinsic motivation
• Provides extra-especial impetus of having set and
accomplished a goal
A list of
harsh or too
‘Goal card’ example:
The student’s self-assessment on the back of the
4. Socioaffective assessment:
When learners resolve to:
• Assess and improve motivation
• Lower their own anxiety
• Plan to overcome mental or emotional barriers to
Self-assessment of styles:
Self-assessment of multiple intelligences:
5. Student-generated test:
Engage the students in the process of
constructing tests themselves
Guidelines for self- and peer-assessment
1. Tell students the purpose of the assessment
2. Define the task(s) clearly.
3. Encourage impartial evaluation of performance or
4. Ensure beneficial washback through follow-up tasks.
Self- and peer-assessment tasks
• listening to TV or radio broadcasts and checking comprehension
with a partner
• listening to an academic lecture and checking yourself on a "quiz" of
• using peer checklists and questionnaires
• rating someone's oral presentation (holistically)•
• reading passages with self-check comprehension questions following
• taking vocabulary quizzes•
• revising written work on your own or with a peer (peer editing)
The six alternatives in assessment with regard to the fulfillment of
the major assessment principles: