Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 68

front cover

SABES is the System for Adult Basic Education Support, a comprehensive training and
technical assistance initiative for adult literacy educators and programs. Its goal is to
strengthen and enhance literacy services and thus to enable adult learners to attain literacy
skills.
SABES accomplishes this goal through staff and program development workshops, consulta-
tion, mini-courses, mentoring and peer coaching, and other training activities provided by
five Regional Support Centers located at community colleges throughout Massachusetts.
SABES also offers a 15-hour Orientation that introduces new staff to adult education theory
and practice and enables them to build support networks. Visit us at our website:
www.sabes.org
SABES also maintains an adult literacy Clearinghouse to collect, evaluate, and disseminate
ABE materials, curricula, methodologies, and program models, and encourages the develop-
ment and use of practitioner and learner-generated materials. Each of the five SABES
Regional Support Centers similarly offers program support and a lending library. SABES
maintains an Adult Literacy Hotline, a statewide referral service which responds to calls
from new learners and volunteers. The Hotline number is 1-800-447-8844.

The SABES Central Resource Center, a program of World Education, publishes a statewide
quarterly newsletter, “Bright Ideas,” and journals on topics of interest to adult literacy
professionals, such as this volume of “Adventures in Assessment.”
The first three volumes of “Adventures in Assessment” present a comprehensive view of the
state of practice in Massachusetts through articles written by adult literacy practitioners.
Volume 1, Getting Started, includes start-up and intake activities; Volume 2, Ongoing,
shares tools for ongoing assessment as part of the learning process; Volume 3, Looking
Back, Starting Again, focuses on tools and procedures used at the end of a cycle or term,
including self, class, and group evaluation by both teachers and learners. Volume 4 covered
a range of interests, and Volume 5, The Tale of the Tools is dedicated to reflecting on
Component 3 tools of alternative assessment. Volume 6, Responding to the Dream Con-
ference, is dedicated to responses to Volumes 1-5. Volume 7, The Partnership Project,
highlighted writings from a mentoring project for practioners interested in learning about
participatory assessment. Volumes 8-12 cover a range of topics, including education reform,
workplace education, learner involvement in assessment, etc.
We’d like to see your contribution. If you would like to submit an article for our Winter 2001
issue, contact Editor Alison Simmons.
Opinions expressed in “Adventures in Assessment” are those of the authors and not necessarily
the opinions of SABES or its funders.
Permission is granted to reproduce portions of this journal; we request, however, appropriate
credit be given to the author and to Adventures in Assessment.
Adventures in Assessment is free to DOE-funded Massachusetts programs; out-of-state
requests will be charged a nominal fee. Please write to, or call:
Alison Simmons
World Education
44 Farnsworth Street
Boston, MA 02210-1211
617-482-9485
asimmons@worlded.org
csantiago@worlded.org
Volume
12• 4

Introduction
Volume 12: Experiences with
Standards-Based Reform
I
n this volume of Adventures in Assess- development and the implementation of
ment, teachers and practitioners write the framework and future activities. She
about their experiences with standards- helps us see how it is linked closely to
based reform initiatives at both the state standards and how assessment is more
and national levels. In the process of trans- than just one dimension, one standard and
lating these initiatives into everyday prac- one tool. Their approach can help us see
tice, they have come to a better under- how this initiative can connect to our own
standing of their students, curricula and state initiatives as well as our own class-
assessment, and the importance of getting room practice. For more information on
students and teachers involved in identify- EFF, check out http://www.nifl.gov/eff,
ing what it is they need/want to know and or call 1-877-433-7827.
for what purpose and context. In What Makes a Good Teacher? Marie
Sherry Spaulding and Roseann Ritter Hassett identifies eight characteristics of a
were part of the implementation phase of good teacher. She hopes these will be help-
the Massachusetts ESOL frameworks ful as we look at and reflect on our own
project. They write about their involve- teaching and connection to our students.
ment in the project and how it helped them Caroline Gear, Rebecca Shiffren and
better understand the role of standards in Steve Kurtz write about the importance of
developing curriculum and the importance empowering teachers to problem solve
of developing ways to understand what about classroom issues. They introduce a
students know, and want and need to tool that was developed at the Center for
know. Teacher Education at The School for Inter-
Beth Brockman participated in Phase national Training in Brattleboro, Vermont .
Two of her state’s framework initiative in This tool helped them establish a way to
North Carolina. In her look at the draft give and receive feedback that involved
by frameworks developed by practitioners in the teacher more in the process.
Alison Simmons her state, she focuses on the non-language In Learning from Experience, Bernie
outcomes of her students and how these Driscoll from the Taunton Adult Learning
could fit into a framework for assessment. Center shares her math assessment process
For more information about the North and tool and talks about the difficulty
Editor Carolina ESOL Frameworks contact Lit- students may have when faced with an
SABES Central eracy South, (919) 682-8108. assessment tool that is too daunting.
Resource Center/ At the national level, Peggy McGuire, Many teachers are looking at standards-
World Education
assessment coordinator for Equipped for based assessment and what it means for
the Future (EFF), leads us through EFF’s them and their classrooms. As the initia-
assessment framework. She discusses the tives grow in use, it would be interesting

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 5

to hear what other teachers are doing to works to better understand what it is our
translate these initiatives into practice. students know, need to know and be able
What does it mean to develop assessment to do?
tools, to write assessment criteria? To de- As always we welcome your thoughts
velop performance standards? How are and ideas. If you would like to submit an
we using the EFF standards in our class- article or have comments, please feel free
rooms? How are we using the other frame- to contact me at asimmons@worlded.org.

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 6

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 7

Contents
Introduction: Volume 12: Experiences with Standards-Based Reform 4
Alison Simmons, Editor, Adventures in Assessment, SABES Central Resource Center,
World Education, Boston, MA

What Makes A Good Teacher? 9


Marie F. Hassett, Ph.D., Bricolage, Inc., Jamaica Plain, MA

Successful Supervision: Three Perspectives 13


Caroline Gear, International Language Institute, Northampton, MA
Rebecca Shiffron, Steve Kurtz, Lutheran Social Services, Springfield, MA

A Curriculum Project 18
Sherry Spaulding, International Institute of Boston, Boston, MA

A Performance Framework for Teaching and Learning with the


Equipped for the Future (EFF) Content Standards 28
Peggy McGuire, EFF Assessment Coordinator, Philadelphia, PA

Connecting the ESOL Framework to Actual Practice 44


Roseann Ritter, North Andover, MA

Learning from Experience


To TABE or Not to TABE: One Agency’s Options 56
Bernie Driscoll, Taunton Adult Literacy Center, Taunton, MA

Learning and Change: A Phase Two North Carolina ESOL


Framework Inquiry Project 60
Beth Brockman, Durham, NC

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 8

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 9

What Makes A Good Teacher?

I
have been teaching for the last ten I’ve been interested in figuring out what
years. During that time, I have worked makes them so good. What I’ve discov-
in public schools, universities, extracur- ered is the inherent sameness of good
ricular programs for K-12, adult basic lit- teachers, regardless of the substantial dif-
eracy, and adult enrichment classes. My ferences between them in terms of style,
youngest student was a 6 year-old bud- personality, goals, and pattern of interac-
ding actress in a town-sponsored arts en- tion with students. I would go so far as to
richment program for elementary students; say that good teachers, in all settings and
my oldest, a Jamaican immigrant, a grand- at all levels, have more in common with
mother beginning at the age of 63 to learn each other than any of them may have
how to read. I’ve taught honors students in with their colleagues in comparable posi-
a college humanities program, and se- tions.
verely handicapped youth in a public high In order to understand the bold state-
school. ment above, try the following exercise. Sit
The breadth of my experience has en- back, close your eyes, and bring to mind
riched my teaching life, but left me with- the three best teachers you ever had. Try
out a luxury some of my colleagues to remember what they were like—how
enjoy—the sense, as I walk into a new they looked, talked and acted, what their
class, for a new term, that I know what my classrooms and/or offices were like, how
students will need, and how best to share they made you feel as their student. When
it with them. This is not to say that I’ve you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten a good
been tossed blind into the classroom. In picture of who these people were, open
most cases, I’ve had enough prep time to your eyes, and consider the words of edu-
gather what seem like appropriate materi- cator and philosopher Parker Palmer:
als, and find out something about the stu-
dents I’ll be working with. What I have not Good teaching isn’t about technique. I’ve by
had is the critical mass of sameness that ac- asked students around the country to de- Marie F. Hassett,
crues to the teacher who stays in the same scribe their good teachers to me. Some of Ph.D.
setting, at the same level, for many years in them describe people who lecture all the
a row. I cannot assume that what worked time, some of them describe people who do
last semester will work this time. little other than facilitate group process, and Bricolage, Inc.
As a result of my ever-changing context, others describe everything in between. But Jamaica Plain, MA
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the all of them describe people who have some
craft and practice of teaching, as separate sort of connective capacity, who connect
from course content, age of students, size themselves to their students, their students
of class, or institutional setting. Every- to each other, and everyone to the subject
where I go, I meet exemplary teachers, and being studied. (1999, p. 27)

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 10

Do you recognize your best teachers in teacher, this means that you know what
this description? When we talk about the your students expect, and you make plans
quality of someone’s teaching, we address to meet those expectations. You, too, have
issues of technique, content, and presenta- expectations about what happens in your
tion. But we all know people who have classroom, based on the goals you’re try-
tremendous knowledge but fail to commu- ing to achieve. If you want to prepare your
If you want nicate it: people who have, on paper, a students for employment, you expect
your students to great lesson, but whose students are bored punctuality and good attendance. If you
or frustrated. When we’re being honest, we teach a GED class, you spend time explain-
become better, admit that good teaching often has less to ing the format of the test and helping stu-
more involved do with our knowledge and skills than dents to improve their test-taking skills.
readers, you allow with our attitude towards our students, And if you want your students to become
time for reading our subject, and our work. better, more involved readers, you allow
The rest of this article will address some time for reading and provide access to
and provide access
of the characteristics that good teachers ex- books.
to books. hibit. It is not meant to be all encompass-
ing or definitive; many excellent teachers GOOD TEACHERS HAVE EXPECTATIONS
OF SUCCESS FOR ALL STUDENTS.
may possess only some of these traits, and
consider others not mentioned to be just as This is the great paradox of teaching. If we
valuable. The characteristics detailed here base our self-evaluation purely on the suc-
may be viewed simply as a selection of cess of our students, we’ll be disappointed.
tools that allow teachers to create and sus- At all levels, but especially in adult educa-
tain connectivity in their classrooms. tion, there are simply too many factors in
students’ lives for a teacher to be able to
Good teachers: guarantee success to all. At the same time,
• have a sense of purpose; if we give up on our students, adopting a
fatalistic, “it’s out of my hands” attitude,
• have expectations of success for all stu-
students will sense our lack of commit-
dents;
ment and tune out. The happy medium
• tolerate ambiguity; can be achieved with a simple question:
• demonstrate a willingness to adapt and Did I do everything that I could in this
change to meet student needs; class, this time, to meet the needs of all my
students, assuming that complete success
• are comfortable with not knowing; was possible? As long as you can answer
• reflect on their work; in the affirmative, you’re creating a climate
• learn from a variety of models; for success.

• enjoy their work and their students. GOOD TEACHERS KNOW HOW
TO LIVE WITH AMBIGUITY.
One of the greatest challenges of teaching
GOOD TEACHERS HAVE
A SENSE OF PURPOSE. stems from the lack of immediate, accurate
feedback. The student who walks out of
You can’t be good in a generic sense; you
your classroom tonight shaking his head
have to be good for something. As a
and muttering under his breath about alge-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 11

bra may burst into class tomorrow pro- classes, their students, their methods, and
claiming his triumph over math, and their materials. They compare and con-
thanking you for the previous lesson. trast, draw parallels and distinctions, re-
There is no way to predict precisely what view, remove and restore. Failing to
the long-term results of our work will be. observe what happens in our classes on a If we reflect
But if we have a sense of purpose inform- daily basis disconnects us from the teach- honestly and
ing our choice of strategies and materials, ing and learning process, because it’s im-
thoughtfully
and we try to cultivate expectations of suc- possible to create connectivity if you’ve
cess for all our students, we will be less disconnected yourself. on what happens
likely to dwell on that unpredictability, in our classes,
choosing instead to focus on what we can GOOD TEACHERS ARE COMFORTABLE we will often
WITH NOT KNOWING.
control, and trusting that thoughtful find dilemmas
preparation makes good outcomes more If we reflect honestly and thoughtfully on
what happens in our classes, we will often we cannot
likely than bad ones.
find dilemmas we cannot immediately re- immediately
GOOD TEACHERS ADAPT AND CHANGE solve, questions we cannot answer. In his resolve.
TO MEET STUDENT NEEDS. Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
Can we really claim to have taught a class suggests that his correspondent, “try to
in geography if no one learned any of the love the questions themselves as if they were
concepts in the lesson from our presenta- locked rooms or books written in a very
tion? If none of our students ever pick up a foreign language…. Live the questions
book outside of the classroom, have we re- now. Perhaps then, someday far in the fu-
ally taught them to be better readers? We ture, you will gradually, without even no-
don’t always think about these issues, but ticing it, live your way into the answer”
they are at the heart of effective teaching. (1986, pp. 34-35). In the same way, our
A great lesson plan and a great lesson are teaching benefits if we can live for a little
two entirely different things; it’s nice when while with a question, think and observe,
one follows the other, but we all know that and let an answer develop in response to
it doesn’t always work out that way. We the specific situation we face.
teach so that students will learn, and when
learning doesn’t happen, we need to be GOOD TEACHERS HAD
GOOD ROLE MODELS.
willing to devise new strategies, think in
new ways, and generally do anything pos- Think back again to your three best teach-
sible to revive the learning process. It’s ers. How has your own teaching been
wonderful to have a good methodology, shaped by their practices, consciously or
but it’s better to have students engaged in unconsciously? Think also of the worst
good learning. teacher you ever had. Are there things you
absolutely will not do because you remem-
GOOD TEACHERS ARE REFLECTIVE. ber how devastating they were to you or
This may be the only infallible, absolute your classmates? We learn to teach gradu-
characteristic of all good teachers, because ally, and absorb ideas and practices from a
without it, none of the other traits we’ve variety of sources. How many movies have
discussed can fully mature. Good teachers you seen that include a teacher as a charac-
routinely think about and reflect on their ter, and how might those films have con-

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 12

tributed to your practice? We are not al- ing is not a static state, but a constant
ways aware of the influences on our teach- process. We have new opportunities to
ing, good and bad; reflecting on the become better teachers every day; good
different models of teaching we’ve ac- teachers are the ones who seize more
quired, and looking at how we acquired opportunities than they miss.
them, makes us better able to adapt and
change to suit new challenges. Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
GOOD TEACHERS ENJOY THEIR WORK But to those who have looked inside themselves,
AND THEIR STUDENTS.
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to And to those who put it into practice,
lose sight of its importance. Teachers who this loftiness has roots that go deep.
enjoy their work and their students are
motivated, energized, and creative. The I have just three things to teach:
opposite of enjoyment is burnout—the simplicity, patience, compassion.
state where no one and nothing can spark Simple in actions and thoughts,
any interest. Notice, too, that enjoying you return to the source of being.
your work and enjoying your students Patient with both friends and enemies,
may be two different things. Focusing too you accord with the way things are.
much on content may make students feel Compassionate toward yourself,
extraneous, misunderstood, or left out. Fo- You reconcile all being in the world. (1989, 17)
cusing exclusively on students, without an
eye to content, may make students feel un-
derstood and appreciated, but may not Works Cited
help them to achieve their educational
goals as quickly as they’d like. Achieving a Mitchell, Stephen, ed. (1989). The Enlight-
balance between the two extremes takes ened Heart. NY: Harper & Row.
time and attention; it demands that we ob-
serve closely, evaluate carefully, and act on _____, trans. (1986). Letters to a Young Poet,
our findings. by Rainer Maria Rilke. NY: Vintage Books.
I would like to conclude with a poem by Palmer, Parker. (1999). “The Grace of Great
Lao-Tzu, the Chinese scholar to whom the Things: Reclaiming the Sacred in Knowing,
Tao Te Ching is attributed. I have carried a Teaching, and Learning.” In The Heart of
copy of this poem with me for many years, Knowing: Spirituality in Education. Ed.
and I find its message both helpful and Stephen Glazer. NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/
challenging. It reminds us that good teach- Putnam.

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 13

Successful Supervision: Three Perspectives

I
have always looked for the perfect tool time TESOL Certificate Programs.
to use when observing teachers, and I An integral part of the SIT TESOL Cer-
have tried many different ones. What tificate Program is giving the participants
has become clear to me in the past year is in the program a hands-on opportunity to
that what matters most is not so much teach followed by an in-depth feedback on
finding the “perfect tool”, but how one the class. The form that SIT uses for its
uses it and adapts it to one’s own program teacher observations is simple (see at-
and purpose for observation. tached form). I liked the form immediately.
For years I would take copious notes It takes the three categories that I was us-
while observing a teacher and afterwards, I ing in my previous observations and puts
would type up the notes into a report form them in a format that is clear. Most impor-
divided into the three categories of 1) time tantly, in the “comments” category, the
of activity, 2) description of the activity emphasis is on posing questions rather
and 3) general comments. My biggest com- than writing possibly critical statements on
plaint in conducting observations in this what is going on in the class.
way was that it was extremely time con- After using this assessment tool a few
suming. I spent more time writing the re- times, I began to realize that how I had
port then I did discussing the class with previously been observing teachers was
the teacher. After the follow-up meetings more “observer centered”. My observa-
I would wonder how effective they really tions and follow-up meetings were not set
were. Were teachers using the observations up to allow the teachers time to reflect on
and follow-up meetings as ways to im- the class that they had taught, and I was
prove their teaching? Or was this just a the one who would initiate the discussion
tool for me to evaluate teachers in the about the class.
classroom and all the teachers got out of it Under the SIT model, I now give the
was an evaluation in their file? As I look instructor a copy of the form I filled out
by Caroline Gear
back at the way I used to conduct evalua- while observing the class as soon as the Rebecca Shiffron
tions, I realize the process was too one- class is over. We then make an appoint- Steve Kurtz
sided, not allowing a lot of teacher ment within the next few days to discuss
reflection. the class. Teachers have the opportunity
My observation and follow-up with between the observation and the follow-up
teachers changed dramatically in January meetings to really think about specific Lutheran Social
of 1999 when I became involved in the questions or issues, rather than wonder Servcies
Springfield, MA
School for International Training’s (SIT) what comments the observer had about &
TESOL Certificate Program. In partnership the class. Discussions during the follow-up International
with SIT, the International Language Insti- meetings are initiated more by the teacher Language Institute
Northampton, MA
tute now provides both intensive and part- as s/he responds to the questions that

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 14

were posed to her/him on the observation (As part of the hiring process at ILI, appli-
form rather than a one-sided conversation cants have to teach a 30-minute practice
with the observer telling the teacher about class.) We found that the assessment tool
what worked or did not work in the class- was difficult to use in a practice class, but
room. it allowed Rebecca and me to talk about
I do not think any assessment tool what questions we would have asked the
The best follow-up works perfectly the first time that it is teacher about the class and a hands-on
meetings are when used. When using the SIT Observation opportunity to evaluate how this tool
Form, the more the observer becomes fa- would work with other teacher trainers.
there is truly a
miliar with the process of asking the right What follows is how Rebecca used the
dialogue between questions for teacher reflection, the better tool with one of her teachers, Steve Kurtz,
observer and the follow-up meetings will be. For me, the and Steve’s reaction to the observation and
teacher. The play- best follow-up meetings are when there is follow-up meeting.
ing field has been truly a dialogue between observer and
teacher. The playing field has been leveled Rebecca’s piece:
leveled and both and both parties strategize together on
parties strategize

I
ways to improve the class. was hired as an ESL teacher at
together on ways to Obviously, this type of dialogue can Lutheran Social Services (LSS) in
improve the class. never happen if the observations are September, 1995. (I had been teaching
handled by administrators who have very ESL for six years before that.) In March,
little teaching experience and whose pur- 1999 I was given the position of ESL Coor-
pose is only to evaluate the teacher. This dinator and part of my job was to observe
assessment tool works best when the ob- and coach other teachers in our program.
server has a lot of classroom instruction I had never done this before and began
experience along with the ability of high- by using a format that had been helpful to
lighting the strengths and posing questions me when a supervisor used it while ob-
when there are weaknesses. The purpose serving my class the previous year. That
of the observation tool is focused more on method was to describe the activities in de-
giving the teacher support and providing tail and give positive feedback and con-
an arena for reflection and growth rather structive suggestions as to how to improve
than just evaluating her/his teaching. the lesson.
Just as I was changing my method of ob- When I used this approach with one
serving teachers, Rebecca Schiffren from relatively new teacher, she said the critique
Lutheran Social Services called me with and suggestions were helpful. With an-
concerns about her observations of teach- other teacher, however, the technique was
ers. The International Language Institute not so successful. This was a relatively in-
and Lutheran Social Services of West experienced teacher whose class atten-
Springfield are funded together to provide dance was slipping. I felt, after observing
ESOL services both in Northampton and him, that there was a lot of room for im-
West Springfield. provement. I made many suggestions but
Rebecca and I met to discuss the tool sensed as the critique went on, that he be-
and then both used the tool to observe a came more and more defensive. In the end,
teacher who was teaching a practice class. I wasn't convinced he would be able to

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 15

take in the feedback and improve his had a plan and followed it. His students'
teaching. attendance during the month had notice-
At this point, I met with Caroline Gear, ably improved and they gave me positive
who introduced me to a new technique she feedback about his teaching (as opposed to
had learned working with The School for earlier, when all I heard were complaints). My feelings during
International Training (SIT). This approach This method of observation and coach- both the first and
was to use three columns: one for the time, ing proved to be extremely successful for
second classroom
the next for a running account of what was Steve. It encourages reflection and explora-
happening in the class, and the third for tion that is meaningful and empowering observations were
comments posed as questions. At the end because it comes from the teacher's own similar: anxiety,
of the lesson, the observer would pose experience. The method does require skill nervousness,
more general questions that considered the on the part of the observer — you must be awkwardness,
lesson as a whole. The idea was for the in- aware of classroom dynamics and pose
embarrassment,
put not to be critical but to give teachers meaningful questions — but it gives teach-
room to think about ways of solving prob- ers the responsibility (and power) to be ac- and increased
lems that made sense to them. I wondered tively involved in their own development. adrenaline.
whether this would work since raising a
question, in my mind, implied a criticism.
Coincidentally, the meeting with Steve’s piece:
Caroline happened just before my next

I
scheduled observation of Steve so I had a have worked for twelve years as a
perfect place to try out the new method. teacher. Before my current position as
When students hadn't written in journals an ESOL instructor, I was in the public
as assigned, I wrote, “Why do you think schools, initially as a Spanish teacher and
they aren't writing?” “How can you get then as a bilingual social studies teacher. I
them more interested in writing?” When have been in my current position as an
students had trouble remembering and ESOL instructor for two years.
pronouncing past tense verb forms, I Throughout my teaching career, super-
asked, “What other ways could you prac- visors have observed me between eight
tice irregular past tense forms?” In the and ten times. In my current job, I have
review session after the lesson, Steve been observed on four different occasions
reflected on these and other questions by supervisors. I have made progress in
and came up with some new ways of improving my teaching style and class-
approaching problems. When he was fin- room management; however my progress
ished thinking about a question, I shared has been rather slow for the better part of a
some of my experiences with the same year. I struggled with important teaching
issue. I felt that Steve was much more in- areas and I began to wonder about my
volved in this session. He thought about suitability for the profession.
his teaching and was more enthusiastic My current supervisor began her official
and less defensive. duties approximately six months ago. She
When I observed him again about a has observed me four times, the first obser-
month later, he had made real strides in vation having occurred on April 14, 1999
his teaching. He was much more assertive, and the most recent, on October 13, 1999.

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 16

Each of the observations consisted of an and how they compare with fireworks in
observation of me in the classroom and a the USA.”
feedback session, which followed. In this During the July 7 class I had planned a
paper I want to describe how I have expe- session in which students would practice
rienced these sessions and how the question formation using the July 4 week-
changes in my supervisor's feedback ap- end as a stimulus. Students were very in-
proach have impacted on my teaching. volved in discussing the fireworks theme
After the first observation my supervi- in their conversation partners, when I
sor and I met. She shared her notes and we ended this activity and began another ac-
discussed the lesson. Her notes consisted tivity involving story writing with num-
of six comments. For each comment she bered pictures. The abrupt move from an
had written suggestions for ways to im- activity in which students were very en-
prove or modify my teaching. I felt some- gaged to another activity with little transi-
what deflated and discouraged during the tion or preparation confused the students.
above-described meeting. I listened to my Moreover, this new activity was unrelated
supervisor, tried to act like a good adult to its predecessor. At the end of this ses-
professional, yet I felt like very much the sion (and subsequent sessions) my super-
opposite. My feelings of discouragement visor included comments which were
continued for a while after the session. I more global in scope. These comments
knew the suggestions were good. Now I helped me come away from the session
had to “deliver.” with a kind of quiet “mantra,” which
Before the second observation/feedback would apply to a broader range of situa-
session (July 7, 1999) my supervisor in- tions.
formed me that she was going to change Also, in the second and subsequent
her approach. She briefly described the feedback sessions, my supervisor posed
new approach and how it would differ her questions and waited for my response.
from the first observation in April. She This waiting or pause was an invitation for
asked me if I wanted her to focus on any me to offer a thoughtful response. I was
particular aspect of my teaching. given real time. My response was impor-
In the July 7 feedback session my super- tant.
visor included clock times for her observa- My feelings during both the first and
tions. After each comment she posed a second classroom observations were simi-
question. For example: lar: anxiety, nervousness, awkwardness,
embarrassment and increased adrenaline.
Comment: 6:25 Students talked about During the third and fourth observa-
fireworks, not seeing them before. tions, I continued to be anxious and felt
Question: “How could you have ex- high adrenaline flowing through me. The
tended the talk about fireworks? They difference was that I felt more energetic,
were interested and it was 'real' talk.” more in control and, in general, more posi-
tive about my teaching. I'm not certain
I then offered my response to the ques- how much of this improvement can be at-
tion. “I could have encouraged them to tributed to the new observation proce-
talk about fireworks in their own countries dures. Perhaps, the good results have

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 17

come from both the new procedures and with a question, my supervisor is inviting
from the increased trust I have for my su- me to participate. She is implying that I
pervisor. have the ability to be analytical. The ques-
During this process my feelings about tion is still a form of criticism but it is a
my work have changed. I feel more hope- form of criticism in which I offer my own
ful and more positive. I am still very much analysis. The analysis is mine.
a teacher who needs to improve his perfor- Second, the process of observation and
mance. The difference is in the kind of clar- question invites me to focus on a solution.
ity of thought that I have now. “Clarity” Since I am invited to answer a question, to
for me means that I'm focusing more on respond to that question, I am further em-
what I am doing and less on what I'm fail- powered to design a solution and imple-
ing to do. The question is “Why?” ment it. I am focusing on what I need to do
First, by presenting information and ob- to improve and not on what I haven't done
servations and following each observation or on what I have been failing to do.

SIT TESOL Certificate Program Observation Sheet

Teacher: ___________________________________ Date:________________

Number of Students: ____ Level:______ Observer:______________________

Time Steps of Lesson Comments

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 18

A Curriculum Project

T
he International Institute of Boston their classes.
(IIB) has been in operation serving The curriculum which was being used
refugees and immigrants in the Bos- in IIB’s evening ESOL program prior to
ton community for more than 75 years. this project had been based primarily on
Through the years the agency has offered a life skills and job skills because it was de-
variety of educational programs to refu- veloped for our intensive day program for
gees and immigrants and the opportunity newly-arrived refugees and dislocated
for many talented teachers to develop workers. Because our evening ESOL pro-
well-planned, well-written curricula. As gram serves a greater diversity of learners
changes occur in student population, from many different countries — refugees,
teaching philosophies and methodologies, immigrants, employed, unemployed — it
learners’ needs, and in our language and was necessary to develop a curriculum
culture, it is necessary for curricula to con- that would address a broader range of
tinually evolve. needs. I wanted to take a bottom-up ap-
Earlier this year, IIB received funding proach to developing this curriculum by
from the Massachusetts Department of assessing both learners’ and teachers’
Education for a six-month project to ex- needs and utilizing the knowledge and ex-
pand the current curriculum for our pertise that our teachers bring to the pro-
evening ESOL program. This program cur- gram to develop a helpful and informative
rently offers three levels of ESOL to adult curriculum guide. I also worked with a
immigrants and refugees. Classes are held group of Massachusetts teachers, Depart-
two evenings a week with an optional ment of Education representatives and
third evening for learning computer skills consultants who have been working to-
and for computer-assisted language learn- gether to develop a statewide Framework
ing (CALL). The proposal we submitted for Adult ESOL.
for this project outlined three objectives: 1)
by to develop an evening ESOL curriculum; 2) GATHERING LEARNER INPUT
Sherry Spaulding to develop sample needs assessment tools; Because I stepped out of my role as teacher
and 3) to incorporate technology into the to be the coordinator of this project, I de-
ESOL curriculum, all in all, a very ambi- cided to work primarily with the ESOL
International Institute tious proposal. The majority of the work I members of our Student Council. The
of Boston did as coordinator of this project was on Council consists of two representatives
the first two objectives. The third objective from each of our evening ESOL and ABE
was accomplished with the help of our (for non-native English speakers) classes.
Technology Coordinator who trained The Council was originally formed to have
teachers one-on-one and helped them to more student representation in planning
develop appropriate CALL activities for and evaluating our evening programs, and

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 19

to provide a vehicle for tapping into our curriculum. How to gather information
learners’ needs. It also gave those partici- from students with limited English lan-
pating on the Council an opportunity to guage skills is always a challenge. Often I
take on leadership roles: offering ideas for used pictures to facilitate conversation. For
improving our programs, planning events, example, to initiate our discussion about
informing fellow classmates of events, de- work, I used pictures of people in various
veloping surveys and gathering input from jobs as a code for getting students to talk
fellow classmates. about their own work situations. The ques-
I met with the ESOL members of our tions I asked in the three areas included:
Student Council for about 30-45 minutes
prior to class time on three occasions. The At Home: Why do you need English at
meetings were conducted in English. I home? How do you feel when the phone
posed several questions, starting with the rings? Who do you need to talk to on the [The process] gave
obvious: “Why are you here? Why do you phone in English? What mail do you need those participating
need to learn English?” The obvious re- to read in English? What do you do when
on the Council an
sponse was to become self sufficient, or in you can’t read the mail you receive? Do
the words of one Council member, “I don’t your children often talk on the phone and opportunity to take
like to ask my friends, my family, please help translate mail for you? How do you feel on leadership roles:
me.” The questions I generated focused on about that? offering ideas for
the use of English at home, at work, and in
improving our pro-
the community. At Work: Was it easy to get your job?
I chose to focus on these three areas be- Why/why not? How did you get your job? grams, planning
cause of information I have gathered at Do you like your job? Why/why not? events, informing
meetings and conferences; from speakers What did you do in your native country? fellow classmates of
from Equipped For the Future (EFF); from Do you need English for your job? Why/ events, developing
Heide Spruck Wrigley, a consultant from why not? Who do you talk to? What do
surveys and
AGUIRRE International who often dis- you need to read at work? Write at work?
cusses the importance of gathering input What are your plans for the future? gatehring input
on learners’ needs in the areas of home, from fellow class-
work, neighborhood/community, educa- In the Community: Where do you go mates.
tion/school and getting things done; and alone? Where do you go with someone
from representatives from the Massachu- else? Why do you need someone else to go
setts Department of Education who em- with you to this place? Are there places
phasized at an initial curriculum you don’t go? Why? Do you have prob-
frameworks meeting the need for a cus- lems that you need to solve but you don’t
tomer-driven learning environment that is know where to go for the right informa-
responsive to the needs of learners in their tion?
three roles: as family member, worker and We gathered considerable input on
citizen. what systems learners need to navigate
My hope was to obtain information when the Coordinator of Adult Education
from learners themselves about their and I met with all the Student Council
needs, interests and goals. With that infor- members from our ABE and ESOL pro-
mation, we could create a learner-centered grams to brainstorm on which guest

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 20

speakers they would like to invite to our ESOL program.


school. The Council gave ideas and shared Because there had been some confusion
personal stories and then we surveyed all as to when to move students to a higher or
of the learners in the two programs. lower level class, it seemed obvious that
It seemed impos- It seemed impossible to generate one our levels needed to be more clearly de-
sible to generate survey that was appropriate for all the skill fined for teachers. To address this, I asked
levels of our learners in ESOL and ABE, so teachers to list their students’ strengths
one survey that
I developed three versions of a survey in and weaknesses on large pieces of paper in
was appropriate for hopes that each teacher could use one ap- the categories of the five strands of the
all the skill levels of propriate to his/her class and as part of a Frameworks for Adult ESOL: oral and
our learners in lesson. For example, the survey used by written communication, language struc-
ESOL and ABE. the lowest level ABE class displays pic- ture and mechanics, navigating systems,
tures to help represent each system. The intercultural knowledge and skills, and de-
teacher could use the pictures on the sur- veloping strategies and resources for learn-
vey to brainstorm on large paper reasons ing.
students gave for wanting a certain The first significant piece of information
speaker and the survey was simple enough we acquired from this activity was that the
for these learners to check which speakers teachers could very easily list specific
they wanted. strengths and weaknesses in only two of
Another version asked learners “why” the five strands: oral and written commu-
they wanted a certain speaker, which gave nication, and language structure and me-
them an opportunity to write. Also, rather chanics. The reason was primarily because
than asking students directly, “What prob- these are the areas we assess. At the end of
lems do you have?”, this more indirect each term our teachers meet with learners
way of simply asking students why they one-on-one to assess speaking and listen-
are interested in this guest speaker encour- ing skills and then learners are given a
ages them to share personal stories if they written test to assess reading and writing
wish without feeling anxious about having skills. Therefore, we are assessing a
to tell their problems. The feedback we learner’s ability to communicate meaning-
gathered from this particular activity was fully and accurately.
very informative and was used to develop It also became very clear to us through
the section in our ESOL curriculum on this activity that the primary focus of our
navigating systems. Beginner Level class is on developing oral
The surveys are included at the end of communication skills. In Level 1 the learn-
this article. ers’ needs are more varied in terms of oral
and written communication skills but the
GATHERING TEACHER INPUT focus is still on improving oral communi-
I met several times with teachers in staff cation. In Level 2, learners have the skills
meetings and one-on-one. I wanted to to communicate; they need to work on ac-
know how often they referred to the cur- curacy. Because our program places learn-
rent curriculum guide, what they thought ers in classes based primarily on listening/
should be included in a curriculum and speaking ability rather than reading/writ-
what was not clear to them about our ing ability, this is where there is the great-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 21

est differentiation of skill areas. Some • Applicants are asked to complete an


learners are very weak in reading and/or intake form as best they can without as-
writing while others who have studied in sistance in order to check for basic com-
our program or other ESOL programs are prehension of forms. The intake form
more proficient in those areas. asks for personal information, work in-
To tap into the teachers’ knowledge and formation and personal goals.
skills, I asked them how they decide what • A teacher will begin with an informal
to teach, how they assess their learners’ conversation with the applicant to pre-
needs, and how they involve students in determine the range of level, and to se-
curriculum planning. Much of the input I lect appropriate assessment tools as well
gathered from these meetings with teach- as to help the applicant feel at ease dur-
ers has been included in a section of our ing the assessment.
curriculum on ways to assess learners
needs. I also developed a needs assessment • The teacher gives the short form of the
resource binder which includes sample les- BEST oral test to the applicant to deter-
sons and activities teachers have used to mine an SPL level for listening and
gather input on learners’ interests, needs speaking.
and goals. • Applicants are then asked to read a pas-
sage at one of three levels which is cho-
EVENING ESOL CURRICULUM sen by the teacher based on the BEST
As a result of many productive meetings score. The teacher asks questions about
and helpful input from active learners and the passage orally to which the learner
experienced teachers, an evening ESOL responds orally. The teacher will choose
curriculum with a number of sections an appropriate grammar test or tests
emerged. We hope it will give teachers a from three examples. Finally, the appli-
holistic picture of the learners, program, cant is asked to write responses to ques-
curriculum content, important definitions tions or to write a short paragraph.
and procedures specific to IIB. Again the teacher chooses which format
is most appropriate to the applicant, in
Defining our program order to check vocabulary, spelling and
In order to give teachers a clear under- grammar. The teacher then determines
standing of our program and how learners an SPL level for reading and writing
are placed in levels we included sections based on the reading passage, grammar
entitled: test(s) and writing sample.
• What is IIB’s mission?
• The teacher decides level of placement
• Who are our ESOL learners? based primarily on the SPL for speaking
• The mission of our evening ESOL pro- and listening but uses the reading/writ-
gram ing score to determine whether the ap-
plicant has formally studied English
• How do we initially assess learners? previously, which may promote him/
For example, the way in which we as- her to a higher level. Also taken into
sess and place learners into classes is as fol- consideration is an applicant’s level of
lows: education and whether he/she has con-

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 22

tact with other native English speakers scribes the primary focus of learning at
outside the class. If an applicant has that level and what should be achieved
skills which are too high for our pro- prior to moving to the next level. Finally,
gram, he/she is provided information the guides to content areas and language
Determining the on other programs. structure and mechanics are lists of life
expected outcomes • If an applicant’s literacy level is too low skills and grammar skills to be addressed
for our ESOL program, several options at that level.
for each level was
are considered. If the applicant has an Determining the expected outcomes for
the most difficult each level was the most difficult part to
SPL 3 or higher in speaking and listen-
part to write. write. Our outcomes are general and yet
ing he/she may be a candidate for our
ABE for non-native English speakers they do reflect what learners should be
program which focuses on literacy, able to do before entering a higher level.
reading and writing. If the applicant is a Because class placement is primarily based
beginner in speaking, listening and lit- on learners’ oral and listening comprehen-
eracy, he/she has the option of joining a sion skills, our outcomes focus more on
daytime Beginner ESOL Basic Literacy improvement of these skills and less on
class if his/her schedule allows. IIB also reading and writing skills. For Beginner
provides volunteer trainings and appli- Level and Level 1 there is a stronger em-
cants may be paired with a volunteer tu- phasis on ability to communicate, while
tor. Level 2 emphasizes accuracy in ability to
communicate. Below are a few examples of
outcomes developed for each ESOL level.
Defining Our Levels
In order to more clearly define our three Beginner Level
ESOL levels and learners, we incorporated • Learners are able to respond to basic
a detailed description of each level includ- oral and written questions about per-
ing the following sections: sonal information including name, ad-
dress, telephone number, age, date of
• SPLs birth, and country of origin.
• Student profiles
• Learners are able to respond to basic
• Expected outcomes oral and written questions about their
• Curriculum guide to content areas current job situation or past job(s), for
example, job title(s), place of employ-
• Language structure and mechanics
ment, at least one duty, and dates of em-
ployment.
The SPL section describes the listening/
speaking and reading/writing range of
Level 1
learners entering that level. The profiles
• Learners are able to respond to oral and
provide general descriptions of learners at
written questions about personal infor-
that level which may emphasize inconsis-
mation including name, address, tele-
tencies, e.g., in listening comprehension,
phone number, social security number,
pronunciation, reading or writing abilities.
age, sex, marital status, date and coun-
The section on expected outcomes de-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 23

try of birth, nationality, and native the guide to content areas incorporated
language(s). into the descriptions of levels, but is di-
• Learners are able to communicate their vided by system as opposed to level of
future plans and personal goals. proficiency. Here is an example of one
system:

Level 2 Systems of Transportation


• Learners are able to monitor their own • Knowing types of public transportation,
speech, meaning that they are self-cor- e.g., subways, trains, buses, and com-
recting or can self-correct when an error muter rail.
has been made apparent to them, pro-
vided the grammar structure has been • Being able to ask for directions and loca-
taught at this level. tion of stops, to request a stop on a bus
or subway.
• Learners are able to clearly communi-
cate their problems in contexts which af- • Knowing where to get schedules, how
fect their lives, e.g., housing problems, to ask for and read schedules.
health problems, etc. • Knowing where to buy tokens and
passes and the different types of passes.
Other Helpful Sections in our • Being able to ask for a certain amount of
ESOL Curriculum tokens or a certain type of pass.
• Knowing how to get to destinations be-
In addition to the sections in IIB’s curricu- yond the local area using transportation,
lum defining our program and levels, e.g., Amtrak, airlines or bus lines.
we’ve included several other sections
which include: • Knowing how to buy tickets and make
reservations to places beyond the local
• Navigating systems area, and how to ask questions regard-
ing schedules and prices.
• Intercultural knowledge and skills
The sections on “Intercultural Knowledge
• Developing strategies and resources for and Skills” and “Developing Strategies and
learning Resources for Learning” primarily make
• Ways to assess learners’ needs reference to resources at IIB and the Mas-
• Guidelines for cycle-end assessment of sachusetts Frameworks for Adult ESOL for
students further information. To help teachers plan
ways to assess their learners’ needs, we in-
• Guidelines for determining SPLs cluded in our curriculum a collection of
• M.E.L.T. student performance levels methods gathered from teachers and from
reference materials for assessing what
As we heard from students, it was clear to
learners need and want to learn. To help
us that understanding and negotiating a
teachers plan final evaluation activities we
complexity of systems was important. We
have included guidelines for cycle-end as-
included a section entitled “Navigating
sessment and for determining students’
Systems” in our curriculum. It is similar to
SPLs and level advancement.

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 24

THE WORK CONTINUES and as expertise grows in the ESOL field,


This curriculum is still a work-in-progress. there will be more opportunities for teach-
Now it is necessary to critically evaluate it. ers to further develop curricula. Taking on
Are the levels more clearly defined? Are this role was a great learning experience
the expected outcomes for each level realis- for me and I have benefited from the
tic? Do teachers feel that this is a helpful knowledge I have gained from teachers,
guide? How are students responding? learners and consultants with whom I have
What else would we like to include? In the worked.
future, as our program continues to change

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 25

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 26

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 27

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 28

A Performance Framework for Teaching


and Learning with the Equipped for the
Future (EFF) Content Standards

E
quipped for the Future (EFF) is a to use a similar research and consensus-
grassroots and collaborative initiative building process to develop an Assessment
of the National Institute for Literacy, Framework that supports the Standards.
aimed at the reform of this country’s Adult This Assessment Framework will allow us
Education and Lifelong Learning System to measure how well students are able to
so that the latter becomes thoroughly and use what they know and report it in a
consistently standards-based and cus- meaningful way. It will move us from
tomer-driven. Building consensus on the “EFF Content Standards” toward “EFF
results that matter to all the customers of Performance Standards”.
the system is the first and most important One of the key tasks of this new phase
component of this reform since it provides of development is to define levels for each
the foundation for real change in teaching of the individual EFF standards — specifi-
and learning. cally, to build a research-based perfor-
Through research and consensus-build- mance continuum for each EFF standard
ing over the past several years, we have that will support the identification of level
been able to describe the knowledge and descriptors for all 16 standards.
skills all adults need to be effective in car-
ADULT COMPETENCE AND A
rying out activities central to their roles as “CONTINUUM OF PERFORMANCE”
parents and family members, citizens and To imagine a continuum of performance
community members, and workers. The that stayed true to the foundation of EFF,
EFF Content Standards express this con- we had to first ask what adult “compe-
sensus on what adults need to know and tence” looks like. How do we express skill
be able to do. And teachers all over the development and application as it relates
country, in ABE and ESOL classes, in Even to the purposes and role-centered activities
Start and Welfare-to-Work programs, have that adults carry out as they move and
by been using the tools of the EFF Content grow through their lives, adding skills,
Peggy McGuire Framework — the Role Maps, the Com- knowledge and abilities that increase their
mon Activities, the Skills Wheel, the Stan- flexibility in responding to change? In
dards — to translate learner goals into moving from Content Standards describ-
EFF Assessment instruction. They are able to do so because ing what adults know and can do, to Per-
Coordinator, these components of the Content Frame-
Philadelphia, PA formance Standards describing how well
work reflect a dual focus on building skills they know and can do, to which character-
and applying those skills to achieve real- istics of performance is it important to pay
life “results that matter”. attention?
Having established what adults need to We began by looking at other frame-
know and be able to do, our current task is works that have attempted to define a

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 29

similarly broad continuum of adult perfor- DIMENSIONS OF PERFORMANCE


mance, including the National Adult Lit- We have identified four key dimensions of
eracy Survey (NALS) and the performance to generate detailed descrip-
qualifications frameworks developed by tions of learner performance. We will
Australia, England, Scotland, South Africa, eventually place those descriptions on a Our goal was to
and New Zealand. We also looked at cog- developmental performance continuum for identify a theory-
nitive science research on expertise and each EFF standard. These dimensions are: based set of dimen-
transfer, and data from EFF field develop- • Depth and breadth of a knowledge base.
sions for describing
ment sites that included teacher descrip- • Degree of fluency and flexibility with
tions of student performance. Our goal
performance at
which one can perform.
was to identify a theory-based set of di- both ends of the
mensions for describing performance at • Degree of independence. continuum: adults
both ends of the continuum: adults with • Range of conditions under which one with many years
many years of formal education and ad- can perform.
of formal education
vanced degrees at the high end, and adults
What is a knowledge base and how do and advanced
with few years of formal education and
we build it? Traditionally we think of a
low English literacy skills at the beginning. degrees at the high
knowledge base as “what you know”. The
We were sensitive to the failure of exist- end, and adults
cognitive science research on expertise and
ing adult frameworks to adequately dis- with few years of
transfer asks us to think not only about
criminate among performances at the low
how much one knows (the number of facts, formal education
end of the scale. We paid very close atten-
procedures, concepts, etc.) but also how and low English
tion to data from our field sites that de-
the knowledge is organized. The goal is to
fined the kind of evidence of progress literacy skills at
assure that as an individual’s store of
teachers looked for and how they de- the beginning.
knowledge relative to a particular domain
scribed student performances. At the same
or skill grows, the structure of the knowl-
time, we made the assumption that the
edge base also develops, becoming increas-
goal of the adult literacy system for adults
ingly coherent, principled, useful, and goal
at the low end of the scale (as for all other
oriented. This means that what a person
adults) is to facilitate increasingly more ef-
knows – at whatever level of knowledge –
fective performance in the world. We
is organized for efficient retrieval and ap-
wanted to be sure to build one continuum,
plication in everyday life. She has access to
and not to strand low-literate adults on a
that knowledge, and can draw upon it for
special, developmental continuum cut off
effective action in the world.
from movement along the main pathway
As an individual moves along a devel-
toward mastery and expert performance.
opmental continuum from “novice” to-
Since research over the past 20 years has
ward “expert”, then she develops more
been building a greater understanding of
and better strategies for organizing the
the cognitive and metacognitive strategies
contents of her knowledge base around
used by expert performers and how they
principles and concepts. To “organize” is
differ from those used by novice perform-
to see, and eventually develop new “pat-
ers, we began to examine whether we
terns” of information. By “patterns” we
could build our continuum on this theo-
mean connections or relationships between
retical foundation.
1) facts, 2) facts and concepts, and/or

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 30

3) prior knowledge and newly-acquired development continuum for this dimen-


facts, connections or relationships that are sion of performance would look at a de-
based on some bigger themes or concepts creasing need for assistance in carrying out
that tie the bits of information together. these executive (or metacognitive) func-
As what an individual knows becomes tions of performance, whether a person is
more organized, growing expertise is also acting alone or in collaboration with oth-
marked by increased ability to identify ers.
what information is relevant to a particular What about increasing the range of per-
task or problem. Further, the individual formance? This dimension gets to the heart
becomes more and more able to identify of defining how well an individual can use
the conditions under which particular a skill. Included in our concept of “range”
kinds of knowledge are useful. The “ex- are variables related to both task and con-
pert”, then, has many strategies to retrieve text. These variables include the type as
and use information that is appropriate to well as the number of tasks and contexts in
whatever work she is trying to accomplish, which one can use the skill. Variables to
in whatever context she finds herself. consider include the degree of familiarity/
We see evidence of such developments unfamiliarity of a task or context; the
in the knowledge base in improved perfor- structuredness/unstructuredness of the
mance along the other three dimensions task; and the complexity of the task. In-
we have identified. In other words, a more crease in range, like increase in indepen-
coherent, principled knowledge base sup- dence, is directly related to the growth and
ports performance with greater fluency, more principled organization of one’s
greater independence, under a greater knowledge base.
range of conditions. We have focused on these four dimen-
What do we mean by building greater sions of performance because they address
fluency and flexibility of performance? We not only what people know but also how
are all familiar with the axiom “practice well they can use what they know. To-
makes perfect.” EFF defines this dimension gether, they comprise a simple, coherent,
as the level of effort required for an indi- research-based picture of performance that
vidual to retrieve and apply relevant makes sense within programs as well as to
knowledge. Points along the continuum all the many publics that care about what
range from “a great deal of effort” through people can do (and where their limits are)
“some effort,” and “fluent” to “automatic.” as a result of their learning.
Why performing with increasing inde-
pendence? An important indicator of an EFF FIELD DEVELOPMENT
adult’s increasing skill is the extent to Phase 3 of EFF field development (1999-
which he or she needs direction or guid- 2000) has been engaging practitioners from
ance in using that skill. EFF borrows five states (Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Tennes-
DeFabio’s definition of independence for see and Washington) in using these four
this dimension: “an individual’s ability to dimensions. Each participating teacher
select, plan, execute, and monitor his or from the 15 to 20 field development pro-
her own performance without reliance on gram sites is currently collecting informa-
the direction of others.” Points along a skill tion about student performance and

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 31

progress against two EFF Content Stan- skills are linked to real-life tasks and con-
dards. They are utilizing a new data collec- texts.
tion template which focuses observation Knowledge remains a single dimension.
and documentation of learner performance Degree of fluency and degree of indepen-
on the four dimensions of skill perfor- dence are combined into one performance Field development
mance. Thus the information they provide category since teachers found that they participants are
will enable us to construct a performance looked at these two aspects together. All
using this revised
continuum for each standard that is based three relate to what learners know. Further-
both on practice and on cognitive develop- more, as noted earlier, growing fluency template to develop
ment. As a result, we will be able to de- and independence relate directly to the ex- an on-going record
velop EFF descriptors that correspond to tent to which knowledge is organized of what learners
the “levels” of other systems (the National around important concepts and principles. can do with specific
Reporting System, for instance) and iden- Thus, a “well-organized” knowledge base
skills, a collection
tify not only what skills adults have, but is the bridge between “knowing” and “do-
also what adults can do with those skills. ing”. of evidence “mo-
The data collection template being used To assist teachers in using the four di- ments” over time
for this field research was developed mensions in planning and instruction, we that together create
through the efforts of a group of teachers, asked questions about each category, as if the “big picture”
EFF staff and Technical Assistance Team we were developing an “observation ru-
of real-world
members who began meeting in Summer, bric.”
1999. We began with a template that ar- Field development participants are us- outcomes.
ticulated the four key dimensions of per- ing this revised template to develop an on-
formance as a guide for placing these going record of what learners can do with
descriptions on a developmental perfor- specific skills, a collection of evidence “mo-
mance continuum. ments” over time that together create the
Teachers found the template too confus- “big picture” of real-world outcomes. We
ing and suggested that it would be easier hope the template will help teachers draw
to use if the dimensions were embedded pictures of learner performance which cap-
in categories that reflected how teachers ture the complexity of what learners are
think about planning and instruction. capable of performing, and communicate it
Guided by this insight, we reorganized the in a way that is easy to understand.
template to focus on four categories: task,
context, knowledge, and performance. A PERFORMANCE FRAMEWORK
Task and context break out two aspects While the development work described
of range of conditions to reflect how teach- here is ongoing, we are well aware that
ers begin planning for appropriate instruc- many teachers are already using the EFF
tion. The focus here is what learners can do Content Framework and are excited by its
with a particular skill or combination of usefulness in placing learner goals
skills. Thus, EFF teachers will likely use squarely at the center of their work. We
key components of the EFF Content wanted to support their ongoing efforts
Framework — Role Maps and Common while also providing them with a tool to
Activities — to develop meaningful learn- help them to begin to use the four dimen-
ing opportunities in which knowledge and sions to inform their practice.

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 32

To that end, the categories and their re- Using the Performance Framework in
lated performance questions from the data practice requires teachers and learners to
collection template have also been orga- stay focused on the components of perfor-
nized into a one-page document, the “EFF mance for each standard. A lot of the
Staying focused on Performance Framework” (see Figure 1) power and promise of the framework
the components of which is available now for any EFF teacher comes from the fact that the Content Stan-
performance allows to use in planning, implementing and as- dards are consensus statements of what is
sessing instruction around the EFF Content important to teach and learn for each skill.
EFF teachers and Standards. The “EFF Performance Frame- The components of performance break
learners to be sure work” integrates the four dimensions into down what needs to be taught and as-
that everyone is a set of observation protocols, or questions. sessed to ensure that learners develop and
focused on the The questions focus on the most important can use the EFF skill. Staying focused on
aspects of learner performance for devel- the components of performance allows
same important
oping expertise. These are the questions EFF teachers and learners to be sure that
things when plan- that we hope that every teacher who is everyone is focused on the same important
ning, implement- teaching to the EFF Content Standards will things when planning, implementing and
ing and assessing ask herself assessing learning activities.
learning activities. • when she is trying to understand what In other words, focus on the EFF com-
her learners already know and are able ponents of performance allows for greater
to do; standardization of instruction without sac-
• when she is planning instructional ac- rificing flexibility, creativity, or accommo-
tivities to fill in gaps and strengthen dation of diverse learning styles and
skills; and needs. It enables us to reliably say: “Adults
with this skill can do these things — to act
• when she is assessing skill development flexibly, with a range of options and
post-instruction, as a result of the choices, to meet the goals in their lives —
planned instructional activities. and this is how we know.”
This is a research-based framework The Performance Framework, then, is a
through which to look at learner perfor- starting point for focusing teaching and
mance and answer the questions “What do learning on EFF Standards and on the four
students know?” and “What can students key dimensions of skill development and
do with this knowledge?” We hope teach- application. By establishing the four di-
ers will carry this framework around, refer mensions as the basis for our Performance
to it often, and finally integrate it into their Framework as well as for our developmen-
thinking about teaching, learning and as- tal continuum, EFF aims to help teachers
sessing with the EFF Standards so well that and learners keep simultaneous focus
it becomes second nature — that they be- on EFF skills development (what adults
come “experts” at focusing their thinking know) and on EFF skills application (what
on the four dimensions of performance. adults can do with that knowledge).
Furthermore, the framework is usable for
any/all of the standards, and for collecting
detailed evidence in a way that it can be
compared.

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 33

USING THE PERFORMANCE EXAMPLE:


FRAMEWORK TO PAY ATTENTION
TO CRITICAL ASPECTS OF TEACHING
You are focusing on the EFF Standard
AND LEARNING “Use Information and Communications
In order to insure that learners are devel- Technology”, and your learners’ goals in-
oping the skills that they need to reach volve using computers well enough to pro-
their goals, the EFF Performance Frame- duce a publication that can communicate
work encourages teachers and learners to important information to others about a lo-
pay attention to the following aspects of cal community organizing effort. Reaching
performance before, during and after in- this goal will require mastery of a large
structional activities focused on the EFF range of tasks.
Content Standards: Complexity: A simple task might be
safely turning on and off the computer, or
1) Tasks somewhat more complex, safely entering
(Dimension: range of conditions under which and exiting a word processing program.
one can perform) As the learners’ skills develop, they will
What kinds of tasks can learners per- engage in ever more complex tasks, from
form? writing and saving short written docu-
What are the activities that learners en- ments, to editing and rearranging text;
gage in that require use of the skill? These highly complex tasks, requiring strong
tasks might be carried out in the instruc- skills, might include using graphics, mul-
tional setting and might be contained in a tiple fonts, even a desktop publishing pro-
discrete lesson or a series of lessons. Or, gram to write and produce a professional
learners may be performing the tasks in newsletter.
other settings, such as at home or in their Familiarity: Has the learner ever seen a
communities. In either case, the task will computer before? Ever used a computer?
be identified because it requires use of the Ever used a word processing program?
targeted EFF skill as well as relates to a Ever worked with publishing software? At
learner’s goal or purpose. the high end of the continuum, the learner
How complex is the task? Is it simple, has performed the task at hand many
one-step, brief, short-term, well-defined times before, or has seen it done often be-
and highly structured, requiring very little fore; thus it is a familiar task. Further
judgment or prediction of outcomes? Or is down the continuum, tasks are less and
it more complex, longer and more sus- less familiar to the learner — all the way to
tained, involving multiple steps, less de- those that the learner has never before per-
fined or structured, or even self-defined formed or seen done.
and self-initiated, requiring careful judg-
ment and accurate prediction of outcomes? 2) Contexts
How familiar is the task to the learner? (Dimension: range of conditions under which
Some guiding questions would be “Has one can perform)
the learner done this task before? Has the In what contexts can learners perform?
learner seen this task done before?” How familiar are the learners with the
context?
Carrying out a task in a very familiar

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 34

situation where there is a lot of assistance threat of abuse in the home? Are there is-
and support is easier for learners than car- sues of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc.
rying out the same task in a less familiar, in the community? Are decent jobs un-
less supported context. At the high end of available, or in settings that pose risks to
Movement along the continuum, the context is very familiar workers?
[a] continuum is — for instance, exclusively in the class- At one end of the continuum, such risks
room or instructional situation. Further are minimal, and the stakes are low. At the
marked by ability
down the continuum, the context becomes other, risks/stakes increase.
to perform [a] less familiar — on the job, in a community
task in a growing meeting, in the home where the learner has EXAMPLE:
number of never tried to accomplish this particular You are working with the EFF Standard
different contexts, task before. “Speak So Others Can Understand”, and
In how many different situations can the learners are hoping to present testimony at
indicating that
learners perform? upcoming statewide hearings on Adult
the learner is At the low end of the continuum, the Education funding.
transferring the learner can only accomplish the task in a Familiarity: At the low end of the con-
use of EFF skills single situation (such as the instructional tinuum, the context for speaking in front of
from one activity setting). Movement along the continuum is a group will be most familiar to the learn-
marked by ability to perform the task in a ers — in the learners’ own instructional
to another.
growing number of different contexts — setting, in front of a small group of fellow
indicating also that the learner is transfer- learners, perhaps. Further along, the con-
ring the use of EFF skills from one activity text becomes less familiar — in a different
or role to another. At the highest point, the classroom, in front of a different group of
situations in which the learner can perform learners, or the agency staff, or its Board.
are multiple and varied; learners can per- The context of the state hearings would be
form the task to meet a variety of needs high on the continuum, assuming learners
and purposes, and their transfer of skill have never spoken in front of state legisla-
use from one context to another is system- tors and so are unfamiliar with that con-
atic. text.
How much risk is involved in the situa- Number of different situations: At the low
tion? how high are the stakes? end, learners can speak before a group
The external environment in which only in one situation — the instructional
learners are trying to accomplish goals can setting in this example. But as develop-
often present significant challenges to ment along the continuum proceeds, learn-
achievement. Some of these challenges ers can perform outside the instructional
have to do with “why” the learner is per- setting and in increasing numbers of situa-
forming a task. What is at stake? Is this tions — in other classes, at Staff or Board
about successfully following directions in meetings, before the Home-School Asso-
class? passing a credentialing exam, like ciation, at state hearings.
the GED? getting/keeping a good job? An- Level of risk: Relatively low-risk/low-
other aspect of “risk” has to do with more stakes contexts, on the low end of the con-
personal and/or societal challenges that tinuum, might include a classroom full of
learners often face in their efforts. Is there a supportive co-learners or before other au-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 35

diences who will not make major decisions for the targeted EFF skill; the third ques-
about the learner based on the perfor- tion, and its subset of questions, refer to
mance. Even at the state hearings, where specific strategies for organizing and ap-
learner performance may have a profound plying the contents of Knowledge Base for
impact on listeners, the risk to the indi- use in a meaningful context. We also need to
vidual learners is not at the highest end of What do learners know? understand, if pos-
the continuum. But learners may soon What vocabulary do the learners have
sible, the personal
need to use their speaking skills in much related to the skill? related to the subject
higher-stakes contexts — before potential area? challenges that
employers or in an attempt to gain a seat Depending on the task to be accom- contribute to the
on the local school board, for instance. plished, learners will need to understand level of risk.
We also need to understand, if possible, different amounts and kinds of language
the personal challenges that contribute to used in the subject matter, as well as lan-
the level of risk. For instance, one impact guage about the skills being developed in
of the psychological effects of various the task. At the low end of the continuum,
forms of abuse can be eroded self-confi- learners will only have minimal and
dence which makes speaking in any public simple vocabulary; as they move along in
situation a very high-risk activity. Then, development, their store of vocabulary will
what may otherwise seem a low-risk con- grow and begin to include less familiar
text needs to be accounted for at a higher and more technical terminology.
point on the continuum. What content knowledge do the learners
have related to the skill? related to the sub-
3) Knowledge Base ject area?
(Dimension: depth and breadth of knowledge “Content knowledge” for any skill or
base) subject area includes familiarity with facts,
When we consider the Knowledge Base operations, concepts, rules, protocols, prac-
necessary for any EFF skill, remember that tices and/or conditions of use essential to
we are looking at skills in the contexts of the skill/subject area — including the pur-
purpose (what adults need to know to pose and audience for skill performance.
meet their expressed goal) and perfor- At the low end of the continuum, learners
mance (what adults need to be able to do have minimal or no familiarity with these
with what they know). So we need to look essential content aspects of the skill/sub-
at content knowledge, but we also need to ject. As learners develop the skill, they be-
look beyond content knowledge to how we come more and more familiar with an
organize and apply the content knowledge increasing amount of content knowledge
in meaningful contexts. This focus on use that is useful in a greater variety of tasks
of skills to meet specific purposes may ex- and for a greater variety of purposes.
plain why so much “EFF Teaching” so of- What strategies do the learners have for
ten looks like “authentic task” or “project” organizing and applying content knowl-
based learning (content + application) in- edge?
stead of “drill and practice” (content only). Before we can use what we know about
The following two questions refer to a skill, we have to have ways to organize
what is contained in the knowledge base all those discrete bits of skill-related infor-

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 36

mation that come into our brains in differ- beyond “pattern recognition” to “pattern
ent ways and at different times. That way creation.” They move from accurate analy-
the information “bits” can eventually be sis (seeing the relationships between con-
retrieved in the right combinations or cepts and related details, between content
As learners develop “chunks”, at the right time, for the right and organizational structure — using strat-
more strategies, purpose. egies such as comparison/contrast, analo-
Can learners recognize relationships or gies, generalization, inference and
their understand-
connections? prediction) to synthesis (organizing infor-
ing increases and Can learners create new relationships or mation in new ways and proposing alter-
becomes more com- connections? nate systems of knowledge — using
plex; they can These questions refer to strategies that high-order strategies such as abstraction,
regularly recognize overlap in the developmental process so criticism and justification).
we deal with them together. The strategies Can learners identify what information
patterns, some
have to do with the growing ability to first is important to the task/problem?
simple and some see, then develop, new “patterns” of infor- At the low end of the continuum, learn-
“higher order.” mation. By “patterns” we mean connec- ers who do not have data/information or-
They can recognize tions or relationships between facts, facts ganized around principles and concepts
cause and effect and concepts, and/or prior knowledge and have a very difficult time deciding what
newly acquired facts, connections or rela- information is relevant to solving a prob-
relationships, for
tionships that are based on some bigger lem or completing a task. Further along,
instance, and can themes or concepts that tie the bits of infor- the strategies learners have for organizing
join prior knowl- mation together. information enable them to consciously re-
edge with new in- At the low end of the continuum learn- trieve important information for a clearly-
ers have very few such strategies and are defined purpose, then for multiple
formation to solve
limited to simple recall of previously- purposes, then for wide-ranging purposes
some problems. learned bits of information. Initial “pattern and contexts.
They begin to recognition” is evident later when learners Can learners understand when informa-
generalize, draw can achieve some low-level understanding tion or concepts apply?
conclusions and of meaning by explaining, interpreting, This question refers to a learner’s ability
translating, summarizing, paraphrasing, to decide which procedures, concepts or
predict outcomes
restating, and/or using examples. As principles are applicable to which situa-
in some cases. learners develop more strategies, their un- tion/task/problem — in other words, the
derstanding increases and becomes more conditions under which procedures or con-
complex; they can regularly recognize pat- cepts are useful. At the low end of the con-
terns, some simple and some higher order. tinuum there is very little understanding
They can recognize cause and effect rela- that procedures or concepts are not univer-
tionships, for instance, and can join prior sally applicable. Further along, learners
knowledge with new information to solve develop a growing repertoire of strategies
some problems. They begin to generalize, linked to specific situations. Eventually,
draw conclusions and predict outcomes in learners are able to flexibly choose from
some cases. among a range of appropriate strategies
As they move toward the upper reaches those that are most effective under the spe-
of the continuum, learners begin to move cific combination of circumstances repre-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 37

sented by task and context. to do no more than copy in writing the


words that they need for a grocery list
EXAMPLE: from a master list (or later, from a newspa-
Your learners are mostly single moms per circular). A little further on, they may
involved in a “Welfare-to-Work” program; be able to write a simple note to a teacher As learners
they are developing the EFF Skill “Convey after practicing doing so in class, but this progress in skill
Ideas in Writing” and are engaging in a se- activity still represents little “understand-
development,
ries of tasks to do so in contexts that are ing” beyond recall. However, a task such
meaningful to them. as rewriting the contents of a brochure ad- they are able to see
Vocabulary and content knowledge: Per- vertising a local child care program so that patterns and use
haps the learners need to begin with rela- it is easier to read requires at least “low- strategies to
tively simple tasks, like making shopping level” understanding. That understanding express
lists before going to the grocery store so is reflected in the ability to interpret, para-
relationships.
that they will use their limited funds more phrase and restate information in writing,
carefully. This task would appear at the and so belongs further along the con-
lower end of the continuum as it requires a tinuum. As learners progress in skill devel-
limited set of vocabulary words, basic con- opment, they are able to see patterns and
tent knowledge, and limited familiarity use strategies to express relationships. For
with writing rules and practices. Further instance, after rewriting several brochures,
along the continuum, tasks will require a they are ready to write an essay in which
larger store of vocabulary, more diverse they compare the programs that have pro-
content knowledge and broader familiarity duced the brochures — what do the pro-
with writing rules — a note to a child’s grams have in common? how are they
teacher requesting a meeting, for instance. different? And high on the continuum,
While this may not be highly complex, it learners will be able not only to recognize
nevertheless involves sentences, punctua- patterns but to create new ones. To write a
tion, coherence, etc. as well as attention to useful guide to child care options, their
the needs of an external audience to whom writing skills will allow them to summa-
you are conveying information. Still fur- rize their own research and prior knowl-
ther on, a written description of one local edge, critically analyze choices according
child care program may require a good to key points of interest to parents, and ex-
store of words, writing conventions, and press their conclusions and recommenda-
knowledge of child care concerns. At the tions as to the best options.
high end, a task such as writing a guide to What information is important, and
local child care options would probably re- when?
quire use of previously unfamiliar and At the low end of the developmental
more technical vocabulary, considerable continuum, a learner might copy exactly a
mastery of writing conventions, and sig- master grocery list or a “generic” note to a
nificant content knowledge in the areas of teacher, without realizing that the list can
child development, state licensing regula- be tailored to individual needs at specific
tions, etc. times, or that a note will be more effective
Relationships and connections: At the low if it shows awareness of a particular
end of the continuum, learners may be able teacher’s context and concerns. Even re-

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 38

writing a brochure loses some impact if the knowledge and experience grow, learners
rewrite doesn’t edit out information that is will be able to use the skill to perform
not useful for the audience’s purpose (e.g., some tasks with greater ease, while other
trying to make a decision about which more complex or unfamiliar tasks will still
“Performance” child care option to choose). As skill devel- require noticeable effort. At the high end
refers to the dimen- ops, the learner becomes more and more of the continuum, learners can use the skill
able to choose and communicate informa- effortlessly, “automatically,” with a high
sions of skill devel-
tion based on key points of interest (the degree of fluency , to do whatever they
opment that move “right” foods for my new, healthy diet; need to do. Performance that used to re-
the focus of teach- two specific matters I want to discuss quire working memory now seems “un-
ing and learning about my child’s reading; adherence to conscious”.
beyond “what we state child care regulations) and the par- How consistently do the learners start
ticular audience being addressed (myself; and finish, getting to the desired outcome?
know” and “how
the Reading Resource Room teacher; single The slowness and difficulty in perfor-
we organize what moms in search of quality and affordable mance at the low end of the continuum is
we know” to “what child care). matched by inconsistency of performance.
we can do with At this point, learners will make a lot of
what we know”. 4) Performance “errors”, will produce little work, and will
(Dimensions: degree of independence; degree of have a hard time finishing the task. Fur-
fluency and flexibility with which one can per- ther along the continuum, learners begin to
form) show greater consistency in use of the skill;
How well can learners perform? they complete tasks more often and with
“Performance” refers to the dimensions fewer errors. At the high end, effective
of skill development that move the focus of skill use is systematic, work is completed
teaching and learning beyond “what we and errors are rare.
know” and “how we organize what we How well are barriers controlled or
know” to “what we can do with what we overcome?
know”. It is about what the use of an EFF “Barriers” here refer to immediate
skill looks like in practice. adverse conditions that get in the way of
How fluently can learners perform? effectively using a skill to perform a task.
How much effort is required? Such barriers may differ in nature and de-
In the early stage of skill development, gree depending on the task and context (is
learners have a difficult time using the the room too noisy? do I need glasses? do
skill — partly because of lack of knowl- I never find time to work at home? have I
edge, and partly because of lack of prac- misplaced the instructions?), but the key
tice. To perform at all, learners constantly question is if/how the learners act to ad-
need to tap what we call “working dress them. At the low end of the con-
memory” and therefore have little energy tinuum, learners will be easily diverted
left to absorb and understand the informa- from the task by such problems, will be de-
tion available to them. So, at the low end of feated and give up. Further along in skill
the continuum, performance of an EFF skill development, learners will start to more
will look slow, difficult, and requiring often strategize about how to overcome
great effort on the part of the learner. As identified obstacles; at the high end, regu-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 39

larly addressing and overcoming barriers How much help is needed from others?
becomes part of the learning process When we use “Independence” as a di-
mension of skill development, we are not
EXAMPLE: suggesting that working alone is better or
You are working on development of the “smarter” than working in collaboration When we use
EFF Skill “Use Mathematics in Problem- with others. However, one indicator of de- “Independence” as
Solving and Communication”. Your learn- veloping mastery has to do with how
a dimension of skill
ers have decided that they want to plant a much assistance learners need in order to
community vegetable garden so that they use a skill to perform a task. At the low development, we
can learn work skills by starting a small end of the continuum, learners need sub- are not suggesting
business selling the vegetables. The range stantial help from others in order to use the that working alone
of increasingly complex math tasks in- skill even in the most familiar and simple is better or
volved in planning a garden may include tasks. Then, as the skill develops, learners
“smarter” than
basic computations, simple measurements, will still need help, but more often with
areas, perimeters, even drawing and using tasks that are difficult or unfamiliar. At the working in collabo-
scaled blueprints. high end, no assistance is needed; rather, ration with others.
At the early stages on the continuum, learners at this level are ready to assist oth- However, one indi-
learners will need to be taught, and con- ers.
cator of developing
stantly reminded of, the math operations How much initiative is shown in getting
that they need to complete necessary plan- started? mastery has to do
ning activities (how much space do we At the lower end of the continuum, with how much
have? what shape will the garden take? learners need a “push” to begin a task; as assistance learners
how many different plots can we put in? they develop greater skill, they will need need in order to use
how many plants can be placed in each less prompting and will often get started
a skill to perform a
plot? etc.). They will work slowly and on their own. At the high end learners
struggle to “get it right”. They may have a need no “push” to get started; in fact, they task.
difficult time with obstacles that get in will often initiate new tasks on their own,
their way (do we have the right measuring identifying and pursuing new opportuni-
tools? how do we get them? One plant re- ties to learn.
quires more space than another, so how do How often do learners generate their
we plant them both in the same plot?). It own strategies to complete the task?
may be easy to abandon their plans at this Once learners get started, how much
point if too many problems present them- and what kinds of help do they need to
selves. But as skills and experience with complete a task? At the low end of the con-
the math increase, learners will need fewer tinuum, learners need to be offered a great
reminders and less help with addressing deal of structure, clarification and guid-
barriers. At the high end of the continuum, ance. They need to be able to “copy” strate-
their work is systematic and they get the gies and approaches that others have used.
garden planted according to a clear and Further along the continuum, learners can
successful plan — using math to achieve sometimes come up with strategies on
their goal. their own, without strong guidance; at
How independently can the learners other times they still need approaches to be
perform? imposed and guidance to be offered. At the

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 40

high end, learners can invent their own new room!). At the high end of the con-
strategies, adapt approaches from outside tinuum, learners will be so skilled in advo-
sources of information, and justify their cacy, and will need so little help, that they
choices of the most appropriate ways to can assist other, new program participants
In the classroom, complete the task. They don’t need guid- in joining the group and learning the nec-
teachers and learn- ance but can offer guidance to others. essary skills.
ers have discovered
EXAMPLE:
the power of the You have heard several individual CONCLUSION
EFF Content learners, at various times, complain about The past five years have been an exciting
Framework to align conditions at your agency (“I wish we had time of national collaboration and innova-
skill development some space here to just hang out and re- tion for the EFF initiative. Through a broad
lax”; “we need a lunch room”; “I’d like to consensus-building process we have devel-
with learner goals,
have books that we can take home to oped standards that accurately reflect what
and to focus in- read”). You want to find a way to turn adults need to know and be able to do.
struction both on “complaints” into constructive input, so Through an iterative field review process
what learners know you decide to focus on the EFF Standard we have made sure that our standards fo-
and on what they “Advocate and Influence”. You approach cus on performance that is observable and
some of the students and introduce the measurable, and that they are specific
can do with that enough to guide instruction and assess-
idea of forming a Learner Leadership
knowledge. Group, and they agree. ment. In the classroom, teachers and learn-
At the low end of the continuum, learn- ers have discovered the power of the EFF
ers have little or no experience with effec- Content Framework to align skill develop-
tive advocacy, so they will need a great ment with learner goals, and to focus in-
deal of instruction, prompting and assis- struction both on what learners know and
tance from you in how to begin. They will on what they can do with that knowledge.
need you to give them a highly structured Our remaining tasks are to define mul-
strategy, for instance, for recruiting other tiple levels of performance for which the
learners to join them and for identifying students should strive, and to develop an
the issues that they want to address as a assessment framework for EFF to help us
group. They will need your active involve- identify and develop accurate assessment
ment in order to insure success at reaching tools to meet a range of assessment pur-
even a relatively simple goal such as ask- poses. These tasks are critical next steps if
ing Board members of the agency to do- our standards are not only to guide teach-
nate used books for a small lending library. ing and learning but also to frame account-
As their skill development moves along ability for results – for learners who need
the continuum (and as they gain experi- to know they have credentials that convey
ence — and success!), they will need less what they know and can do to the outside
assistance and fewer instructions from world, and for funders and policymakers
you, though they may still want your help who need to know that programs and sys-
with more complex advocacy opportuni- tems are achieving desired results.
ties (getting permission to reconfigure cur- We have tried here to describe some of
rent space, or raising funds to add on a the key work that is under way in this next

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 41

phase of the EFF development process: level descriptors representing real world
• imagining one, research-based Perfor- benchmarks;
mance Continuum that stays true to the • offering a Framework that teachers who
principles at the foundation of the EFF are using EFF can use now to focus as-
Content Standards, and that frames for sessment, planning and instruction on
teachers the “scope and sequence” of four theory-and-practice-based dimen-
adult development as a movement of sions of adult skill performance.
ALL adults — including our learners —
We are deeply grateful to the many de-
from “novice” to “expert”;
velopment partners whose efforts have
• engaging in a field development process brought us this far and are moving us for-
aimed at building such a Performance ward. Hard work lies ahead, but we look
Continuum for each of the 16 EFF Stan- forward to the opportunities and potential
dards that will support identification of for real change that accompany it.

For more information on Equipped for the Future and its publications, contact 1-877-433-7627 or
go to its website @ http://www.niti.gov/eff.

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 42

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 43

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 44

Connecting the ESOL Framework


to Actual Practice
Rosann was part of a statewide curriculum tered by guiding students into peer con-
frameworks project in Massachusetts. Funded versations and guided dialogues. There
by the Department of Education and facilitated was a special emphasis on problem solv-
by the School for International Training in ing. My students responded particularly
Vermont, this project involved connecting the well when the dialogues had special mean-
Massachusetts Adult ESOL frameworks to ing and relevancy to their lives. Because of
practice. This is the account of Roseann’s expe- the participatory nature of my classes, the
rience as part of that project. This article is learner-input project was very enjoyable
adapted from the draft document “Engaging and worthwhile.
Learners and Practitioners with the Adult The primary purpose of the learner in-
ESOL Frameworks.” June 1999. Roseann put project was to investigate ways in
worked at the Lawrence Adult Learning Center which teachers could develop instructional
during this project. materials and comprehensive units of
study that would be relevant, meaningful

T
here were about 35 students in my and responsive to students’ needs. The ul-
two ESOL classes. We met five days timate goal was to tailor our program to
a week for two hours each morning. better provide our students with the lan-
My students represented a cross-section of guage and survival skills necessary to
learners ranging in age from 22 to 64 with function effectively and meet the chal-
diverse educational backgrounds. The ma- lenges of everyday life in this country. As
jority of students were Hispanic with 2 part of the DOE Learner Input Project, my
Russian students, two Haitian students, specific purpose was to see if the expressed
one Chinese student, one Cambodian stu- needs and goals of my students matched
dent and one Korean student. The classes with those expressed in the Massachusetts
were somewhat homogeneously grouped ESOL Curriculum Frameworks.
as a high beginner-low intermediate level. My project involved eliciting student’s
by They were all highly motivated to learn feelings and ideas regarding what is im-
Roseann Ritter the language, however, as adults trying to portant to them and what kinds of knowl-
juggle family, work, school, and the many edge and skills they hope to gain from
pressures involved in being immigrants. our program/my classroom. We did this
They had many obstacles to overcome. in the form of a student-generated needs
North Andover, MA
The environment of our class was par- assessment.
ticipatory, with the primary emphasis on Our project evolved into several stages.
oral communication and navigating sys- The initial stage involved the learners
tems. Some daily focus was also on read- identifying situations in their everyday
ing and written communication. Oral lives that presented the greatest problems
communication was encouraged and fos- and challenges to them in trying to com-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 45

municate in English. The process began as category. These were examples from each
a class discussion where students shared context: “I can’t explain my health problem
their experiences, their concerns, and prob- to the doctor,” “I have trouble when I have
lems that they had encountered. Several to go for a job interview,” “I can’t explain
students willingly shared stories where my problems to a lawyer,” “When my boss
their inability to communicate in English explains my job responsibilities, sometimes
presented problems that left them frus- I don’t understand him and then I get into
trated and embarrassed. As they shared trouble.”
their stories, a common bond was estab- Each team appointed a secretary to
lished as they realized that they all had write down the group’s ideas. As I circu-
similar feelings of frustration and despair. lated among the groups, I assisted where
As the students talked about the contexts necessary to help clarify ideas. It was
where they had the most difficulty com- stressed that at this particular time the
municating, I wrote the situations on an main goal was to elicit ideas; grammar and
easel pad. spelling were not issues to worry about.
After coming up with nine areas of con- Students were allowed to express and
cern, I passed out index cards numbered write their ideas in their native language if
one to four and asked them to prioritize that was the way they could express them
them by listing the most difficult situation most succinctly and if all members of the
first, the next second and so on. The results group shared a common native language.
were: Other members of the group helped to
1. Doctors and Illness translate so the secretary could write it in
2. Communicating at Work English. The grammar skill that we were
learning in class at that particular time was
3. Police and Court ‘superlatives’. Students were able to apply
4. Talking on the Telephone the skills that they had learned e.g., most
difficult, hardest, most confusing, most
5. Credit
embarrassing, worst etc. in a contextual
6. Children’s School way. Integrating grammar into these dis-
7. Computers cussions was important because it gave
them practice using grammar structures
8. Shopping
we covered in class together by practicing
9. Banking oral language. Many students needed to
The following day the class separated know that they were getting the “gram-
into focus groups according to the context mar” for which they always craved.
category that they had listed as their first The groups were very engaged in the
priority. Those that felt they had problems task. At the onset of the project, I explained
with “Doctors and Illness” made up one to them that they were playing an impor-
group; “Police and Court” made up an- tant role in assisting teachers to plan les-
other, “Talking on the Telephone” and sons and identify content areas that were
“Communicating at Work” another. Their important and meaningful to students
task was to come up with specific prob- across the state and that there were other
lems that they had encountered in each adult students engaged in the same pro-

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 46

cess. They took complete ownership of the this on with enthusiasm.


project and expressed several times that This was the last step in finalizing our
they felt it was a very important endeavor. needs assessment tool. Using the computer
When the groups completed their lists of in my classroom I taught students how to
Students shared “can’t do”s, they dictated them to me and I produce a table using Microsoft Word and
many interesting wrote them on sheets of easel paper. I then how to insert symbols into a document.
stories that helped asked, “Does everyone have difficulty with Students were eager to go to the computer
to give me further all of these things?” From that discussion lab the following week to produce their
we came up with varying degrees of diffi- tables. Every student in both classes pro-
insight into the culty. “That’s easy for me, sometimes I can duced a table, inserted their “can do” list,
needs of my do that, it’s a big problem,” etc. and very ingeniously selected symbols to
language learners. The next phase was to convert those insert in their charts. Four needs assess-
“can’t do”s to “can do”s. This was a diffi- ment surveys were developed based on
cult but necessary step to facilitate dealing what students felt were the four highest
with the students’ varying degrees of diffi- priority areas: going to the doctor, police
culty with the items they came up with. It and court, talking on the telephone, and
was also putting their thoughts in a “posi- workplace issues.
tive” rather than “negative” context, em- We ran off copies of each of the four
phasizing not only what they “don’t know” completed surveys to be administered to
and “can’t do” but also what they “do most of the day and some of the night
know and “can do”. Statements like, ESOL students in our center. Two of my
“When my boss gives me new job respon- students expressed willingness to adminis-
sibilities, I don’t understand what he is ter the survey to the lowest levels where
saying and I sometimes get into trouble,” some translation would be necessary. They
were changed to, “I understand what I accompanied me when I administered the
need to do when my boss gives me a new survey and translated the items from En-
job responsibility.” glish to Spanish. One of my Russian stu-
The students again worked in their fo- dents translated from English to Russian.
cus groups to convert their can’t do’s. Each Another student took the results home and
group came up with a new list of can do tallied every item to produce final figures
statements that they dictated to me and I for the survey. We surveyed about 100 stu-
wrote them on the easel pad. Their enthu- dents in all four categories.
siasm was truly exciting and their produc- Students shared many interesting stories
tivity was amazing! They were totally that helped to give me further insight into
engaged in every step of the process. After the needs of my language learners. Al-
our lists were compiled, we were then though many of the needs they expressed
ready to transfer our work to produce a are the usual concerns that students have,
needs assessment chart (see pages???) there were some new ideas that surfaced
Part of our program was to integrate through discussion. One of the areas that
technology into what we were teaching in generated the most lengthy and interesting
class. This was a perfect opportunity to do discussions was the area of law enforce-
this. Since learning computer skills was ment and our legal system. Students’ con-
very important to most students, they took cerns about these systems really got me

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 47

thinking about what my role is, or should formulate some new ideas for future planning.
be in assisting them to navigate the legal As a result of this project, I am currently
system. It became apparent to me that if facilitating a team of teachers working on
this issue concerns my students to the de- developing comprehensive units based on
Where do you
gree that they expressed in our discussion the results of the survey’s findings. Using
groups, it is an area that needs to be fur- the needs expressed in the student-gener- draw the line in
ther explored. Is it our responsibility to ated survey we will develop units of study encouraging
educate our adult students about the basic that will be closely tied to the Curriculum students to take
laws of this country? Should we teach Frameworks and will address the ex-
risks and advocate
strategies that will assist our students in pressed needs of our students. We have
advocating for themselves within the law developed several lesson plans on “Doc- for themselves?
enforcement system? Where do you draw tors and Illness.” We will then begin a sec-
the line in encouraging students to take ond unit on ‘Police and Courts.”
risks and advocate for themselves? Hopefully, this will continue to be an on-
This Learner Input Project was a valu- going process where increasing numbers
able experience for my students and me. of learners and practitioners will partici-
It enabled me to take a closer look at my pate in planning meaningful and relevant
teaching, and my role as a teacher and to curriculum for our center.

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 48

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 49

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 50

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 51

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 52

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 53

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 54

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 55

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 56

To TABE or Not to TABE:


One Agency’s Options

T
he Taunton Adult Literacy Center We then feel we are able to get a better
offers several programs. Our classes understanding of the person’s ability. The
consist of two ABE, two ESOL, a test has basically the same subjects as the
Pre-GED class and a GED class. We hold TABE: whole numbers, computation and
classes two or three times a week from 9-12 concepts, geometry and algebra. The main
in the morning. Our student ratio is 60% difference is it only has 25-40 questions,
women and 40% men. Some of the stu- not 90 like the TABE.
dents are employed and others are not. Our goal is to place students in appro-
Many of the students work in the home. priate levels, but also to have them walk
The ages of the students range from 18-65. out of the assessment protocol with a posi-
The goal of our program is to meet the tive attitude about school. Many of our
needs of the individual student. People students have had negative prior experi-
participate in our program for various ences in school. They began to believe that
reasons. Some come to improve their lan- they were incapable of doing math. We of-
guage skills; others seek better employ- ten hear: ‘I can’t do that.’ In order for these
ment or to continue their education. We students to be successful in their educa-
try to help students achieve their personal tional endeavors, we must have them over-
goals. come the belief that they cannot do it.
As the assessment person, I talk with the Teachers also take part in the assess-
student at intake and find out his or her in- ment process. Once the students are placed
dividual reason for attending our program. in the class the teachers assess them on a
I try to find out a little about their past daily basis through class participation,
educational experience. Once I have gotten classroom observation, formal testing,
a feel for where they may be academically, informal testing, informal testing projects
I decide which test to give them. We have feedback between the student and teacher,
different tools and tests that we use to as- and in some cases working with math
by sess students depending on their abilities. games on the computers.
Bernie Driscoll We use the TABE test when a student Twice a year teachers in the higher level
attended school for several years. For classes use the TABE test to compare the
many students who come into our pro- scores the students had at the start of the
gram the TABE test is very intimidating, class to that of the midterm and the final.
Taunton Adult
Literacy Center not only the content but the test itself. If The majority of the students are comfort-
Taunton, MA we see that a student is very nervous then able with testing at this point and are anx-
we start them with our one page in-house ious to see the progress they have made.
assessment. The students see one page in- Testing in the lower levels is not as
stead of many pages and the undertaking structured. The teacher might opt to do a
does not seem so overwhelming. formal test at the end depending on the in-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 57

dividual student. Many times the teacher After many years of actual testing and
looks at the student’s portfolio and as- evaluating students we believe our new
sesses using what they have collected over system works well. Enrollments high and
a period of time. If a student is to move on retention is impressive. Very few students
to a higher level we need scores docu- have dropped out in the last year. We hope
mented; therefore formal testing is done. that some of these assessment ideas will be
helpful to your program.

(chart follows)

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 58

Taunton Math Pre-Test

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 59

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 60

Learning and Change:


A Phase Two North Carolina ESOL
Framework Inquiry Project

I
n the spring of 1999 I participated in Lit- nings, from 6:30 to 9:30. Students also at-
eracy South’s Phase Two of the North tended class on Tuesday and Thursday,
Carolina ESOL Curriculum Framework same time, but with a different teacher.
Inquiry Project. The purpose of this project I began class by telling the learners I
was to discuss and analyze the draft form was part of a research project and that I
of the North Carolina ESOL Curriculum was interested in finding out the kinds of
Framework, developed in a year long pro- changes students had made in the process
cess by a group of 15 adult ESOL practitio- of learning English other than gains in lan-
ners. guage ability. We brainstormed a list of
Following our initial meeting, I focused non-language gains students had made,
my part of the inquiry project on one of the which I wrote on the board. Then I gave
eight guiding principles developed by out the assessment tool, “Are you chang-
Phase One participants that asserted that ing?” and briefly went through it to make
language learning is a change process, both sure the students understood all the vo-
cognitive and affective. Further, that ESOL cabulary. The survey also included the re-
learners make non-language gains such as quest, “If you can, draw a picture of how
increased self-confidence and self-esteem. I you looked when you first started to speak
specifically wanted to explore the non-lan- English and how you look now when you
guage gains learners make in the ESOL speak English.” The students then com-
classroom. I spent two months reading any pleted the survey individually. Finally,
literature I could get my hands on regard- students got together with a partner and
ing the subject, talking to my colleagues each person shared what she or he had
about the changes they saw in their learn- written.
ers, and conducting an inquiry with my The list of non-language outcomes the
ESOL learners. In this article I share the students brainstormed consisted of:
findings of my inquiry and what I see as • More confidence to go shopping
by some implications for ESOL practitioners.
Beth Brockman • Ability to go out and make friends
MY INQUIRY • Confidence to express feelings
I decided to ask the ESOL learners in my • Improved relationships--found love [!]
intermediate level class at Wake Technical
Durham, NC • Come to class regularly, even every day
Community College what changes they
have experienced while studying English. • Travel more
I designed a survey entitled, “Are you • Changed appearance, clothing
changing?” based on a tool from East End
• Better understanding of formal situa-
Literacy (Hemmindinger, 1988). I taught
tions
this class on Monday and Wednesday eve-

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 61

• Able to give help to family First, non-language outcomes should be in-


• Got driver’s license. cluded in our objectives, right alongside
our objectives for gains in language profi-
We discussed the changes as we ciency. Second, the methods used in our
brainstormed this list. Sometimes I asked classroom should promote non-language,
clarifying questions. At other times I asked as well as language gains.
students to expound on what they had Australia’s Adult Migrant English Pro-
said, or to give an example. gram (AMEP) shows its high regard for
All the students agreed that they had non-language outcomes in English lan-
changed. They also agreed that the amount guage and literacy programs by incorpo-
of time they had spent in the U.S. and rating them within a Certificate in Spoken
studying English influenced the changes and Written English Competencies (Jack-
they had made in their lives. They felt, son, 1994). “By doing this, full recognition
generally, that they had made significant is also given to the fact that non-language
language gains after they had come to the outcomes are amenable to... expression...
U.S. and had studied in class. within a competency-based training” (p.
The answers on the survey varied. All 19). Non-language gains are not merely by-
the students listed language as well as products; they are consciously addressed
non-language gains they had made in the in the curriculum. AMEP recognizes that
process of learning English. The categories language and non-language outcomes are
of non-language outcomes the students’ re- intertwined.
sponses fell into were: Confidence, Learn- An Australian study lists numerous
ing Skills, Cultural Awareness, Knowledge achievements by incorporating non-lan-
of Social Institutions, Access and Entry guage outcomes as an integral part of the
into Further Study, and Support in the development of language and literacy
Learning Environment. competencies (Jackson, 1994):
• It makes these outcomes apparent
IMPLICATIONS FOR ESOL EDUCATORS
within the framework of other educa-
I was struck by three things in the sur- tional accomplishments.
vey results. First, I noticed that students
had difficulty separating non-language • It acknowledges the skills development
and language outcomes. Second, I was in this area as part of an ongoing educa-
amazed at the level of excitement students tional process.
exhibited in talking about how they had • It encourages closer examination of the
changed. Last, it was interesting to me that content of these outcomes.
so many students were eager to draw a • It allows similar continuity of develop-
picture to show how they had changed. ment in this area of skill as in others.
Of course it is understandable that stu-
dents have difficulty separating language • It fully appreciates the value of these
and non-language outcomes. It is difficult outcomes to the proposed education
to talk about change without describing it both within and outside the context of
holistically. The recommendations here for the classroom.
ESOL educators are twofold, I believe. • It promotes the development of teaching

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 62

practices specifically targeting these I believe there is a lack of assessment


outcomes. tools that consider non-language out-
This leads very well into the second rec- comes. Certainly standardized measures
ommendation I have for ESOL educators: fail to assess these gains. Thus, it is the re-
Teachers of ESOL use methods in our classroom that pro- sponsibility of educators, both instructors
students who want mote non-language, as well as language and administrators, to come up with tools
gains. I found that the Australian study that assess non-language outcomes. About
to portray a more
seemed to place great emphasis on the 88 percent of the teachers interviewed for
authentic picture the research in the Adult Migrant English
methods used in an ESOL classroom.
of their students program in Australia “thought that
Specifically, the study mentioned that
should foster non- applying the principles of adult learning achievements in the non-language out-
language outcomes increased students’ confidence and self- come area deserved formal recognition
esteem (Jackson, 1994). and should be recorded as part of an ad-
in their students
Susan Imel lists the following adult equate student profile” (Jackson, 1994, p.
by creating assess- 8).
learning principles to guide our methods
ment tools that Teachers of ESOL students who want to
in class:
give opportunities • Involve learners in planning and imple- portray a more authentic picture of their
for students to talk menting learning activities; students should foster non-language out-
comes in their students by creating assess-
about and reflect • Draw upon learners’ experiences as a ment tools that give opportunities for
on the changes they resource; students to talk about and reflect on the
are going through • Establish a climate that encourages changes they are going through while
while studying and supports learners and enhances studying English. Teachers should encour-
self-esteem; age students to write about their own ex-
English.
periences of change. For low-level literacy
• Encourage self-direction in learners;
students, a teacher could use the Language
• Promote a spirit of collaboration in Experience Approach (LEA). There are
the classroom; and many variations of the LEA and it can eas-
• Use small groups to encourage coopera- ily be adapted to most classroom situa-
tion and promote teamwork (Rosen, tions.
1999). For students with higher levels of lit-
eracy, teachers can give them a variety of
I would like to return to my surprise at
ways to share their stories through writing.
the level of excitement students exhibited
Students can write in journals or dialogue
in talking about how they had changed
journals, compose poetry, develop a stu-
and that so many students were eager to
dent newsletter, and even publish a class
draw a picture to show how they had
newspaper or book. Students who publish
changed. I believe this has implications
their writings, either within or beyond the
specifically in the area of assessment. If
classroom, experience many benefits. They
students are so eager to talk about and
discover that the realities of their own lives
draw the changes they are making while
are worth thinking about, getting down on
learning English, that tells me this is some-
paper, and sharing with other people
thing worthy of being assessed!
(Peyton, 1993). These stories can be used to

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 63

help students think about the changes they non-language outcomes in our objectives,
are experiencing, and give them an avenue addressing them in our classrooms, and
for expressing themselves. designing assessment tools that capture
Seeing the students excited about ex- these gains..
pressing themselves through drawing em-
phasized to me the importance of REFERENCES
acknowledging a variety of ways of know- Hemmendinger, A. (1988). A tool kit: Self
ing and communicating (Schneider & evaluation exercises for students and literacy
Clarke, 1993). Thus, assessment should workers. Ontario, Canada: East End Lit-
rely on an assortment of tools to reflect stu- eracy.
dents’ knowing and allow them different
ways to express their outcomes. Certainly Jackson, E. (1994). Non-language outcomes in
one assessment tool will not capture it all. the adult migrant English program. Sydney,
Australia: The National Centre for English
CONCLUSION Language Teaching and Research.
Participating in Phase Two of the ESOL
Curriculum Framework Inquiry Project Peyton, J. K. (1993). Listening to students’
was a great learning experience for me. At voices: Publishing students’ writing for
the end of my project, I concluded that other students to read. In J. Crandall & J.
change is an important part of a healthy K. Peyton (Eds.), Approaches to adult ESL
system. It is an essential and natural part literacy instruction (pp. 59-73). Washington,
of living, and plays a meaningful role in DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
growth and evolution. Change and contin-
ued creation signal new ways of maintain- Rosen, D. J. (1999). NLA Discussion: The
ing order and structure. Thus, it is natural need to improve practice. Posting to NLA
to expect ESOL learners in our classrooms list-serve, 13 February 1999.
to experience all kinds of changes, includ-
ing those that fall into the realm of non- Schneider, M, & Clarke, M. (1993). Dimen-
language outcomes. Instead of merely sions of change: An authentic assessment
anticipating these changes, let’s do what guidebook. Durham, NC: Peppercorn Press.
we can to encourage them by including

Used by permission of the author.

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 64

Are you changing?

Are you getting more confident?

 Are there things that you do now that you did not do before coming to English
class? What are they?
EXAMPLE: I go out by myself more often.
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
 How often did you come to English class when you first started studying
English? Please explain.
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
 How often do you come to class now? Please explain.
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
 Do you feel less shy with your teacher now? Please explain.
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 65

 Do you feel more comfortable participating in class? Please explain.


____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________
 When you first came to English class, did you speak English outside class?
❒ Yes ❒ No

If yes, how often? Where? Describe your experiences.

_ ___________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
 Do you speak English more in your every day life now than you did before you
started studying English in class? Please explain.
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
 Are you more comfortable speaking English with people outside class? Please
explain. If you can write an example, please do.
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________

more

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT


Volume
12• 66

 Are there any other changes you have made since you started studying English
in class? What are they?
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________
 If you can, draw a picture of how you looked when you first started to speak
English and how you look now when you speak English.

Adapted from Hemmendinger, A. (1988). A tool kit: Self evaluation exercises for students and
literacy workers. Ontario, Canada: East End Literacy.

ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT Volume 12: Winter 2000


Volume
12• 67

Volume 12: Winter 2000 ADVENTURES IN ASSESSMENT