Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Assessing Students

When I have delivered presentations on Comprehensible Input at conferences, one of the questions which I usually get asked is, "So how do you test students on this? What does an assessment look like?" One of the main issues of which we need to let go is the concept of the traditional chapter/unit test. Assessments do not have to be long 4-page documents, which take students 30-45 minutes to complete. Rather, assessments can be short, to-the-point, and completed by students in less than 10-minutes.

A few things about my assessments:
  1. I assess students every 5-7 days.
  2. They are ALWAYS unannounced, outside of the midterm and final exam (since those dates are set by my department and school). However, I will only assess when I think that 80% of my students will score an 80% or higher. Usually, the reality is 90% of my students will score a 90% or higher. Setting a date for an assessment does nothing really other than letting you know who prepared and studied for it, but it does not tell you who retained the material afterwards. When we begin to assess on students' timelines instead of on our own as teachers is when we will see increased student success and mastery of material.
  3. They are always based upon a reading/story which we have been doing in class. In other words, it is never a sight passage.
  4. My Latin department implements standards-based grading, instead of the traditional grading system. In other words, students are assessed according to their proficiency in a number of various standards. I will save this topic for a later blog post.
  5. Students have unlimited retakes if they do not do well, as my goal is student proficiency in the language, not performance.
  1. I love doing these types of assessments, because they are fast! Before when administering a unit/chapter test, it would take the entire period. These type of assessments take less than 15-minutes for students to complete, meaning I can do other activities besides assess!
  2. Even though my assessments are unannounced, rarely do I have students complain about it. Most find them very easy and have told me that they like that they never have to "study" for this class. My response to students: if you do your 50% and if I do my 50% in class, then you never will have to study for these assessments!
Below are some actual ways in which I have assessed students this year. NOTE - The standards which I am assessing are at the top of each section. F = Formative (quiz grade), S = Summative (test grade). Notice that assessments usually have both formative and summative standards addressed:

Assessment #1

Iuppiter et Iuno duōs filiōs habent: Mars et Vulcanus. Mars est deus bellī. Mars est pulcher et torosus. Iuno Martem amat, quod Mars est pulcher et torosus.

Vulcanus est deus ignis. Vulcanus est torosus, sed non est pulcher. Iuno Vulcanum non amat, quod Vulcanus non est pulcher. Eheu! Iuno est irata, quod Vulcanus non est pulcher. Iuno Vulcanum e Monte Olympo ad terram deicit. Vulcanus est vulneratus in terrā, et est tristis.
F3  I can recognize isolated words and high-frequency phrases when supported by context.
Provide an English definition of FIVE of the underlined words. You may answer more than five as backup credit.

1) Mars est torosus.
2) Iuno Martem amat, quod Mars est pulcher.
3) Iuno Martem amat.
4) Vulcanus non est pulcher.
5) Vulcanus est torosus, sed non est pulcher.
6) Iuno est irata.
7) Vulcanus est vulneratus in terra.

S3  I can demonstrate understanding of authentic and adapted Latin passages when read.

Answer TWO of the following questions IN ENGLISH. You may answer more than two as backup credit.

1. Describe how Mars and Vulcan differ from each other in terms of physical appearance.
a. Mars

b. Vulcan
2. Describe the difference in how Juno reacts to Mars and to Vulcan AND why she reacts that way.
a. Mars

b. Vulcan
3. Give TWO reasons why Vulcan is tristis at the end of the story.

Assessment #2
Vulcanus Victor - Assessment
Vulcanus est valde peritus faber. Vulcanus sellam facit; sella est valde pulchra. Vulcanus sellam ad Montem Olympum mittit. Iuno pulchram sellam videt, et considit in sellā. Subito, sella Iunonem capit! Iuno non potest surgere e sellā! Iuno est captiva!

Quod Vulcanus est faber, Iuppiter eum ad Montem Olympum fert. Vulcanus Iunonem e sellā liberat, et Venus datur ut coniunx. Vulcanus est valde laetus, quod est in Monte Olympo, et Venus est coniunx. Venus Vulcanum non amat, quod Vulcanus non est pulcher. Venus Martem amat, quod Mars est valde pulcher.

F4     I can read and understand short stories and conversations.
Pick THREE of the following statements, and find the sentence IN LATIN from the story above which supports that statement. You may do more than three as backup credit.

1)  Juno likes pretty things.

2) Vulcan receives two rewards for freeing his mother from the chair.

3) Vulcan has a wife.

4) Due to his looks, once again someone rejects Vulcan.

S4 I can provide accurate, written translations of authentic and adapted passages in Latin.
Pick THREE of the following statements, and write out a translation into “good English.” You may do more than three as backup credit.

1) Vulcanus sellam ad Montem Olympum mittit.

2) Iuno non potest surgere e sellā! Iuno est captiva!

3) Venus Vulcanum non amat, quod Vulcanus non est pulcher.

4) Vulcanus est valde laetus, quod est in Monte Olympo, et Venus est coniunx.

Assessment #3 - Drawing Dictation
S2 I can demonstrate understanding of a Latin text/passage when heard.

(taken from a Movie Talk called MonsterBox)
  1. Ecce puella et duo monstra: parvum monstrum et mediocre monstrum! 
  2. Faber facit casam parvo monstro 
  3. Puella est laeta, quod monstro placet casa 
  4. Ecce puella et tria monstra: parvum monstrum, mediocre monstrum, et magnum monstrum.
  5. Faber facit casam mediocri monstro.
  6. Faber non facit casam magno monstro, quod magnum monstrum est molestum.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! It is just wanted I needed to read right now!

  2. These are great - I love the ideas of (1) having unannounced, low-stress assessments, and (2) using activities that you might be doing in class anyway as the assessments (which, I feel, adds to the low-stress factor).

    Thanks for all your ideas - this site is my favorite resource.

    1. When we as teachers focus on proficiency instead of on performance, assessments become much less stress-inducers for students.

  3. Silvii,
    This is great! I've been holding off on assessments for my Latin 1 students, and this is exactly what I needed to read. I do have a question though. What set of standards are you using - State or other?
    - Gratias!

    1. The standards are based upon a mix of modern language Can-Do statements and from my district's standards for Latin.

  4. Keith,
    I like the format of your assessments and plan to do something similar this week with a story we have been working on. I allow students to retest if they score lower than a C on any assessment. Very few students choose to retest, but if they do, I create another assessment so they are not seeing the exact same one (which can be time consuming!). Since you allow unlimited retakes, do students retake the SAME assessment, or do you create multiple versions??

    1. Because there are eight Latin 2 classes at my school (and I am the one in charge of the Latin 2 lesson plans), I make different versions of assessments: same reading passage but different questions. When a student wants to do a retake (many times I will do remediation with that student first by going over the story to see what was not understood), then I give a different version of the assessment to that student.