Season 4, Episode 4: Assessment Panel

Inspired proficiency logo 3Welcome to Inspired Proficiency and thank you for joining us for season 4, episode 4. As always, please tweet any takeaways and inspirations to #inspiredproficiency.

Download the episode here or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts here or find it wherever you listen to podcasts! 

Today’s episode features a panel on assessment. With these amazing guests: Beckie Bray Rankin on Twitter @BBRlaPROF, Ryan Casey on Twitter @rcaseyLHS, Lisa Goodenough on Twitter @MmeGoodenough, Ellen Toubman on Twitter @EHToubs, and Sharon Stout on Twitter @sharonkstout . 

In Ashley’s class she uses a portfolio assessment and she talked about on a previous episode here. Also, be sure to check out Rhonda Higgin’s interview on assessment in episode 2


Panelists number 1 and 2:  Beckie Bray Rankin & Ryan Casey IMG_1506

Ryan Casey teaches Spanish at Lexington High School. Beckie Bray Rankin teaches French with Ryan at Lexington High School. They both love listening to this podcast because it helps them level up their language teaching which is the theme of this year’s Massachusetts Foreign Language Conference happening this October in Springfield, MA. More info here! Ashley will be presenting among many other talented presenters so check it out if you’re local to MA!

Ryan and Beckie have developed a way to grade for growth and reflection and they share it with us today.

They looked at the word evaluate and it has the word value in it so what is the value of an assessment. They both try to develop with their students taking risks and growing within their learning. They wanted to bring in setting goals in their personal lives to their classroom selves. Ryan and Beckie are piloting it this year in their classrooms and are hopeful it will spark some good conversations in other departments throughout their building. They want to model this lifelong skill of growing and trying new things in life now in high school so students are ready to bring this mindset with them throughout their lives! Here is their document they are planning with students to show their growth throughout the year and the journal document.

Their proposed assessment plan:

  • 2 goals are set
    • Personal
    • Language 
  • Create at the beginning of the quarter
    • Halfway through check in for how are they doing
    • End of the quarter evidence sheet
  • 80% of the grade for assessments (projects, tests, summatives)
  • 4 different categories with 5 points per category for the remaining 20%
    • Reflecting on their two goals
    • Reflecting on their ability to meet course expectations and be part of the classroom community and culture
      • 5/5 doing that skill all the time with evidence on a daily or weekly basis
      • 4 usually
      • 3 forget some of the time but showing growth
      • Don’t need to reach the goal to do well
      • If they show a productive struggle they can reflect and look at the goal and retry it as long as there is growth because if they can’t accomplish it they can keep trying
  • 4 quarters at their school is 90% of their grade and 10% final exam
    • Almost 90% of their grade based on growth
  • If their language goal does not come up naturally within the classroom to help them grow, they need to self-advocate or tweak their goal so that they can use class time to help improve themselves toward their goal and showing progress
    • They need to apply this same self-advocacy to their personal goal in their daily lives

We wish them well in their new grading endeavor and we will check in with them later in the year to see how it’s going!

Panelist number 3: Lisa Goodenough

IMG_1343 (1)Lisa Goodenough is a multi-level teacher French teacher in Michigan. She used to use the textbook page to page to page and has discovered over the years that she prefers moving away from it. She loves using the IPA (Integrated Performance Assessment) format to assess how students use the language and how they are capable of it. She works with her county and district to be on the World Language Committee for Standards Based Grading. Her Michigan benchmarks are tied very closely to the ACTFL standards and she designs her thematic units using ACTFL standards. Her county developed rubrics that can be used at every level all the time. Students learn about them and use them for every summative assessments so they always know the expectations. 


  • Interpretive first
  • Try to use all three modes every unit but it doesn’t always happens
  • 30% for each IPA mode and 10% is the formative things in class

Panelist number 4: Ellen Toubman

Ellen Toubman teaches Spanish and is the Department Chair in Medfield, MA. Ellen IMG_6831thinks there is a real shift in assessment moving to performance based tasks and focusing on proficiency. Her department worked this summer, after completing a workshop with Ashley, to develop level appropriate tasks. They wanted to come up with similar tasks at every level. They worked on Novice and Intermediate Interpersonal Rubrics with categories like task completion, text type, comprehensibility, and overall. Text type refers to what students are reading or producing. Novices can produce lists of words, memorized phrases, and isolated words. Intermediates have the ability to put phrases together, create with language, and express complete thoughts and ideas. Her department found it very powerful to create it together as a department using ACTFL as models and breaking it down to their classes. She recommends understanding the ACTFL proficiency levels and one workshop is not sufficient to understand them. One big reminder is that in proficiency based tasks, you are not looking for grammar, you are looking for clarity of the message. Ellen also grades AP exams and the grammar is not something that counts towards the score. It might help students to learn that but is not always needed to get a message across.

Panelist number 5: Sharon Stout

IMG_8593Sharon Stout teaches in Allen, TX at the largest high school in Texas. She teaches Spanish and some IB sections. Sharon talks to us today about rubrics. She shares the story of a student who wrote at a Novice High level with perfect grammatical accuracy but she was in her third year of Spanish and proficiency wise she should have been writing at a higher level. She then worked with a writing teacher colleague who was using rubrics (back before rubrics were so widely used) to adapt rubrics to use within her classrooms. The rubrics helped students and teachers to focus on expanding upon what they could say with word choice (and potentially culture depending upon the task) and moved away from grammatical accuracy. It changed from a subtraction model of these are all the things you did wrong, it became more of a growth mindset of points they earned within the rubric. Her rubrics are now generic about content and task completion. Some rubrics are generic for any assignment and sometimes they are specific to a certain task or assessment. With a rubric she also thinks its very powerful for students to see what they did well and how they can improve. She loves using online rubrics for students to read and see online with lots of space for teachers to write comments. She suggests this website to help scale and calibrate rubrics to make sure the final grade is representative of the what the rubric was really meant to assess. She also strongly believes that World Language Rubrics should correlate to the ACTFL standards. Ashley suggests that people check out Ohio’s Foreign Language Association rubrics here.

**She highly suggests calibration training where teachers bring in work samples and everyone in the department grades them at the same time so all teachers are using the rubrics the same way.**

Game Segment with Sarah Breckley:

Story slice

  • Sentences are connected to student generated models. Instead of drawing, which is still good, there’s always Play Doh.
  • Students receive the same reading
    • Class novel page
    • Newspaper like El Mundo en tus Manos
    • Past story acting synopsis
    • TPRS skit
    • One Word Image description
    • Events from a movie talk
    • Sr. Wooly
    • Steps of a cultural ritual
    • Practiced comprehensible song lyrics
  • Kids scan the reading, maybe ask reading if they might struggle with parts of it
  • Divide class into 3-5 teams
  • Give some kind of manipulative
    • Play Doh
      • Buy or make your own
    • Dolls
    • Figurines
    • Their own bodies
    • String
    • Markers and whiteboards
    • Dried spaghetti noodles
    • Pipe cleaners
  • Students create a representation of a random sentence in the reading with a timer and students all work at the same time
  • When time is up they try to guess what each member of their group made and earn points for every correct answer

Students are constantly reading the story and getting tons of repetition and input. Do once in a while or use as much as you can for the same reading!

Resources and links mentioned on the show:


  1. Beckie Bray Rankin on Twitter @BBRlaPROF
  2. Ryan Casey on Twitter @rcaseyLHS
  3. Lisa Goodenough on Twitter @MmeGoodenough
  4. Ellen Toubman on Twitter @EHToubs
  5. Sharon Stout on Twitter @sharonkstout

Season sponsorship brought to you by:

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Episode sponsors:


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