Assessment is the Devil

I hate it, you hate it… We all HATE assessment. It is so hard to find the right way to let our students show what they know. How do we address the proficiency guidelines, accept students who develop at different paces, please the evil souls who demand RIGOR and PAIN in assessment, and give a point value to something that is not equal from one child to another… Well, friends. I’m going to say it. We can’t. We are never going to end up with the perfect assessment. But we keep trying!

My Spanish 4 this year is predominantly male and is prone to English blurts. Taking a page from my friend, Kristy Placido, they have to earn their Friday Internado by speaking Spanish during the week. They are doing it, but they don’t find it as exciting as last year’s group did. (I know, never compare your children.)

We just finished reading Kristy’s Frida Kahlo reader. It is so good and yesterday they had an AMAZING Discussion Thursday (on Wednesday) . Today they did the written part of their final assessment.

I am really excited about how the assessment turned out! I gave them choices (which I do frequently) but also made sure those choices stretched the language they would have to produce to higher levels. Check out what I did Writing assessment choices.

I have students in my level 4 ranging from just reaching novice high to “earned the state seal of biliteracy after Spanish 3″… It’s a wide swath but they are ALL still here and they are all able to communicate in TL at their own level! For this writing, I gave them the topics, we looked at the rubric, I gave them 5 minutes to plan their writing, and then 30 minutes to write. I’ll share the topics and some examples below.

Level 1 was a maximum B+ because they would be writing within their comfort zone instead of flexing their language muscles. Its target was a comfy Intermediate Low type of language… Paragraphs and known topics. This topic was simple, tell me all about Frida’s life.


Level 2 was a maximum of A because they would have to begin drawing comparisons. A few of the kids chose this one. I feel like it was a comfortable topic for even the ones with slower development of performance toward proficiency! In this topic they had to compare Frida’s life with their own… being sure to give evidence of the similarities and differences.

Level 3 allowed students the opportunity to earn an A+. These students had to compare Frida’s life with that of another famous person live or dead. This meant that they had to show what they knew from a broader range of topics and bring that into their Spanish presentational writing. Many chose this path! I love that this student used her SSR book as the point of comparison! I had everything from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Van Gogh to Amy Winehouse!!



Something I always do to encourage strong transitions is to share my Enriquécete words. I keep them in a basket and students pull out the ones they might want to use as they write. The cool thing is they eventually have to look really hard because “they already know them all”. 🙂 Such a problem!

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I think this assessment STYLE will work for a lot of units and I’m going to try adapting it to my 2s and 3s and their tasks as well!

For more info about how I assess in class, check out this video.




  1. Thank you! This is so good and my very struggle today with a 3 chapter Frida Kahlo test!! You always inspire and teach me Carrie!!

  2. Hola Carrie! You continue to amaze me and inspire me! I will be forever grateful for all you do to help others! I am a better teacher because of you. Thank you for your generous spirit and amazing creations! Seriously- you and Kristi both are such valuable resources to our community. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Great post and helpful. With love and gratitude. Susan Scotty St. John’s School Houston

    Sent from my iPad


  3. May I ask a question about how you assess your students in a class with such a wide discrepancy in proficiency levels? Do you continue to use just one rubric for the entire class throughout the year when assessing and placing them? In other words, is intermediate mid the target for all of your students in level 4? I teach in a very small private school. 2 transfer students who had already completed level 2 in another school, were forced to repeat level 2 because of scheduling issues. They are very high. In that same class, I have about 8 IEP students who LOVE my class but are struggling to maintain a C. As you mentioned, there is a very wide gap.

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