Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness and Documenting Student Growth Position Statement

Position Statement
  • November 21, 2015

The educator is the catalyst for developing learners’ language proficiency and global competence so that learners are prepared to interact and communicate successfully in the global community. Student growth and educator effectiveness are intrinsically connected. The purpose of demonstrating student growth is to show learners’ progress toward higher levels of proficiency while using language in a culturally appropriate manner. In addition, measures of student growth show the educator’s impact on student language learning, taking into consideration each learner’s engagement and motivation for learning. Such evidence will also demonstrate for multiple constituencies the value of successful language learning and teaching. Educator effectiveness and individual student growth are best measured based on frequent and multiple measures of language performance over time, demonstrated by each learner, connected with evidence specific to language learning rather than from other subject areas, and indicating growth in language performance through:

  • balanced evidence of learners’ performance across the three modes of communication (Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational)
  • performance assessments, aligned to NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements or progress indicators set by state standards
  • informal and formal assessments of language learning
  • web-based and comprehensive portfolios

Guidelines for Implementation

What constitutes a Student Growth Goal?

  • Pre-assessment to establish baseline data of where learners are in their use of language across the three modes of communication (as appropriate to the language)
  • Setting growth targets that are:
    • Standards-based (across three modes of communication as appropriate; incorporating use of language in a variety of contexts and for showing growth in interculturality, the ability to function with and within other cultures)
    • Measurable
    • Attainable degree of growth
    • Developmentally appropriate
  • Post-assessment to identify learners’ growth in each of the three modes of communication (if appropriate)
  • Does NOT mean measurement of grammar knowledge, vocabulary knowledge, cultural facts, or other discrete elements of language
    (Based on Ohio Department of Education, Measuring Student Growth in World Languages, )

What data should be collected?

  • Frequent and multiple measures of student growth based on evidence over time to document progress toward the Student Growth Outcomes-SGOs (state-determined terms also include Student Learning Objectives-SLOs; Learning Targets; Evidence of Effectiveness)
  • Pre- and post-assessments (Evidence is gathered from the same student from at least two different points in time; establish a baseline and then measure overall growth)
  • Both formative and summative assessments
  • Snapshots of language competencies that may include interdisciplinary projects or work outside the classroom which may be compared to “Can Do” statements
  • Authentic assessments of performance in all three modes of communication, linked to proficiency levels or range of performance (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced)
  • Feedback from rubrics (analyzed and reflected upon, creating a feedback loop)
  • Portfolio of diverse evidence with classroom-based samples of student work
  • A standardized world language assessment aligned with standards for learning languages in order to verify or validate these multiple measures

How do data inform teaching and learning?

A variety of data reflects student learning and empowers educators to develop subsequent steps to achieve the stated SGOs (or state term). The data inform the educator’s planning, instruction, assessment, feedback, and classroom environment. There should be a causal link between student learning and educators’ instructional strategies.

These multiple measures of student growth over time help learners

  • establish goals for improvement in using the language
  • focus their learning
  • chart their progress toward reaching those goals
  • achieve higher levels of proficiency

These multiple measures of student growth over time enable educators to:

  • make adjustments to planning and instruction
  • make informed decisions in the classroom regarding instruction and assessment
  • establish class goals to address skills that are weak

Feedback needs to focus on what the learner can do and what communication strategies will lead to improved performance. Such feedback empowers students to be reflective learners by understanding the language goal (SGOs or state term) and deciding where they are and how to get where they want to go with language.

What is the process to collect and use data?

How do educators collect, analyze, and use the right data for documenting student growth and demonstrating educator effectiveness? The process should reflect the guiding principles of Understanding by Design (Wiggins & McTighe):

1. Identify desired results

The Student Growth Outcomes need to be based on the standards for learning languages and functional use of language (what learners “can do” using the tools of vocabulary, language functions, and grammatical structures). Institutional support needs to be provided to educators for collaborative learning around how to create appropriate learning targets, building common knowledge and understanding of how performance points toward proficiency, what it takes to move from Novice to the Intermediate level and then to the Advanced level of proficiency, and designing effective feedback tools or rubrics.

To measure growth, key principles include:

  • Set a range of performance for the SGO (or state term), such as Novice High/Intermediate Low, to provide a learning target that realistically accommodates learners’ different profiles of strengths and weaknesses across the three modes of communication;
  • Keep in mind that all learners will show movement in that range, but some learners will not demonstrate significant growth up a sub-level on the proficiency scale by the end of any given period of instruction;
  • Understand that as learners move up the proficiency continuum it takes longer to show growth within a prescribed period of time.
  • Recognize that in the given time period measured, growth is indicated when each individual learner’s performance is more fluid, across more topics, and with an increasing variety of competence compared to when the learner began the course.

2. Determine acceptable evidence

Evidence needs to include multiple measures, frequently collected, including portfolios with samples of student work addressing all three modes of communication and the development of global competence.

  • The NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements provide a description of the types of evidence needed to create a balanced profile of performance that points toward the targeted proficiency level.
  • The responsibility of collecting data is shared between the learners (who collect, reflect on, and evaluate the evidence of their learning) and the educator (who reviews the profile of demonstrated learning and assists learners in identifying gaps in their language development that need to be addressed).
  • Assessments developed outside the local institution serve to validate how well learners are meeting the performance learning targets, and may be carried out strategically with random groups of students or through assessment of different skills at different points in the program sequence.

3. Plan learning experiences and instruction

Educators use data to improve student learning. This reflective practice provides another measure of educator effectiveness. Effective practices include:

  • Professional learning communities regularly collaborating around data;
  • Data coaches and peer coaches providing feedback and guiding reflection on that feedback;
  • Educators adopting the same approach to provide feedback to learners on progress toward the learning goals and guiding learners’ reflection on what they need to do to improve their performance;
  • Feedback on learning targets informing educators and learners as to the next steps for instruction and reflection for goal-setting;
  • Frequent formative assessment informing curriculum, instruction, and feedback to learners

Concluding Statement

The purpose for documenting student growth is to measure progress toward developing learners’ global competence, which contributes to building a multi-lingual and multi-cultural work force that can successfully compete and collaborate in the world. Learning languages is an integral part of being college-, career-, and world-ready, and being able to participate effectively in diverse communities at home and around the world. Motivation and engagement are enhanced as language learners reflect on their own progress and see language as a tool to help better achieve their learning goals and a professional proficiency. The evidence that can be captured during a period of learning is only one indicator to demonstrate educator effectiveness. Lifelong learning is the enduring measure.

Approved by the ACTFL Board of Directors-November 2015