Why I still mostly love Integrated Performance Assessments

This is the fifth installment in a series of posts on Assessments in the Communicative and Comprehension based classroom. This post covers reasons why I love and don’t love Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs) and how I am using them in my classes. At the time of this writing, this is based on nearly a decade of using such performance-assessments in my Novice and Intermediate classes:

Integrated Performance Assessments (IPA) provide opportunities for students to demonstrate how they use their language skills, given a real life task. More than a simple “audit”, an IPA allows student to continue learning and growing about a cultural topic while being evaluated in all three modes of communication: Interpretive, Interpersonal, and Presentational.

I started implementing IPAs in 2013/2014: I studied the ACTFL publication Implementing Integrated Performance Assessment, created a few IPAs, tried them out in my classroom, and upon attending a training with Francis J. Troyan, one of the co-authors of the book, I went into an IPA frenzy. I had IPAs up the wazoo for all kinds of proficiency levels, from Novice Low all the way to Intermediate Mid! Needless to say, I have scaled back and I am now very comfortable with the balance I have found.

1.Example of IPAs

2.Pros and Cons of using IPAs

Because I strive to provide as much broad (not specialized) language and comprehensible input as possible in the Novice years, I find IPAs too specialized and too heavy for Novice learners. However, I find them very helpful to assess learners who are ready to express themselves in more details on a specialized topic. As usual, that does not mean my Novice don’t speak, they do. I just choose not to grade their productive skills while they are developing. With Intermediate students, however, I use IPAs on a quarterly basis, as summative assessments.

In conclusion, I think IPAs have a place in the Communicative and Comprehension-based classroom, as long as we don’t use them too soon or too frequently.

For classroom examples of IPAs, visit the Ohio Department of Education wonderful samples.

For a hands-on and down-to-earth workshop on implementing IPAs in your classroom, school, or district, please contact me.

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