Developing and Analyzing Form and Function of L2 Integrated Performance Assessments for Diverse Learners: Questioning the Questions

Developing and Analyzing Form and Function of L2 Integrated Performance Assessments for Diverse Learners: Questioning the Questions

William Douglas Schnaithman
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8543-5.ch014
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From the first day of instruction, it's important to understand the skill objectives in a second language classroom, and for instruction to be aligned with the assessment. In addition, the pace of instruction should be based on qualitative and quantitative data derived from the use of ongoing formative assessments. These assessments are crucial to determine what skills students have mastered, and which ones may require further instruction and practice, with the goal for students to be able to effectively communicate in the target language in real-world scenarios. In this chapter, the author identifies and emphasizes the importance of using integrated performance assessments to drive the pace of instruction. There are three different tools presented which have been used effectively to measure students' speaking skills, vocabulary knowledge, and ability to apply grammatical concepts in a second language (L2) classroom for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences. And finally, there is an opportunity to put the practical concepts learned in the chapter into practice.
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The theoretical framework of consistent re-evaluation is based on the idea of situated cognition, defined by Hara (2009) as a:

theoretical framework originated primarily in reaction to the concerns educators had in identifying an optimal classroom learning environment for K-12 children (p. 8).

Although the classroom is a highly-constructed environment, the goal of the L2 teacher is to create seemingly organic learning experiences for the students, which is implied by Young’s (2000) work on outcomes in second language instruction. This can only be achieved through a concerted effort of being a cognitively confident educator, consistently reflecting and re-evaluating teaching practices, and assessing students’ mastery against desired competency standards (Houston & Thompson, 2017).

In his article “Language Teaching as Sociocultural Activity: Rethinking Language Teacher Practice” (2010), Cross discussed how teacher knowledge and classroom practice should be, but isn’t always, appropriately aligned. Cross (2010) defined the teaching environment as a composite of three basic elements: the cultural-historic context of the class and the student population, the pedagogical characteristics of the teacher, and the micro-genetic engagement between the teacher and the immediate learning environment. Even if the demographics and cultural-historic context of future students may be unknown, whether teaching English language learners, as discussed in von Esch & Kavanagh (2018), or teaching other language learners, professional educators should develop sound pedagogical principles prior to their classroom instruction. Then, charged with the task of being a language educator, they’ll have the knowledge and tools for authentic engagement with their learning environment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Wait Time: Purposeful silence at specific times during instruction, which allow students with an inhibited working memory capacity to access and process the question being asked or the content delivered.

Working Memory Capacity: The amount of information able to be accessed and processed simultaneously by an individual.

Curriculum Alignment: Consistency in form and function in classroom instruction, from the teacher’s introduction of a concept to the students’ summative assessment.

Summative Assessments: Final measures of students’ degree of content mastery.

Formative Assessments: Ongoing measures of students’ content mastery throughout instruction. Data derived from formative assessments can be used to guide teachers’ instructional practices with the goal of increased content mastery by the students.

Learning Difference: A population of students who require special attention directed at their unique learning style. Characteristics of this population are individual and varied, but categorical consistencies exist, such as students with dyslexia.

Dyslexia: A neurological disorder that results in difficulties decoding words and phonemes, and generally impedes the person’s ability to correlate text recognition with phonetical and semantic relationships.

Neurological Disorders: Abnormalities in brain processing functions. Cognitive functions, such as reading for someone with dyslexia, can be remediated, but these conditions will not go away.

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