When I first started out teaching and for several years after, like most veteran teachers, my tests were based purely on vocabulary, grammar, and random textbook cultural knowledge. I spent a lot frustrated hours grading and using up a ton of purple ink marking kids down for misspelled conjugations and nit-picky grammatical details that don't really matter in the long run.
Subsequently, I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for submitting my early students to this type of "assessment" method. I try to remind myself that I was only using the practices that I experienced in high school and college and observed in my student teaching. I didn't know any better. I'd never seen or experienced perfomance-based assessment. The only way I knew how to test my kids was to mark wrong what they didn't know and neither my students nor I learned much from these tests except that 1) I had failed to teach them well and 2) they hadn't learned the material.
I had to relearn, mostly on my own, how to be a Spanish teacher and the transition was painful and yet incredibly rewarding. I quickly realized that the units I was required to teach didn't match up with anything in the textbook, rendering them useless. Once I started creating and giving my own scratch-made IPAs, I found that I also had to throw out a lot of my previous instructional practices because they didn't get my students to the necessary proficiency goals. It was a mess, but it was gloriously exhilarating.
When I look back now at my early IPAs, I cringe a little because I broke a lot of what I would now call "proficiency rules." However, I've been refining and improving my tricks to making an effective IPA for almost a decade (how can it have been that long!?) and I'd really like to share some of them with my fellow language teachers so you don't have to go through as much trial and error as I did! This is just the first of a series posts dedicated specifically to integrated performance assessments.
Click here for the next blog post, Part 2: How to Create and Give IPAS: The Interpretive Task. I'll be discussing how to create an IPA, actually give them to your students (this is more complicated than one might think), tips and tricks, things to avoid and more. I'd also love it if you'd follow me on social media, subscribe to my blog using form on the right sidebar, and comment below so we can have a collaborative conversation about integrated performance assessments.
Finally, please check out my Spanish I IPAs here! I've worked really hard to make them useable for new-to-IPA teachers and they come with I-can statements, goals, preparation materials, student prompts, rubrics, answer keys, and even student samples.