Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

Traditional assessments are “tests” taken with paper and pencil that are usually true/false, matching, or multiple choice. These assessments are easy to grade, but only test isolated application, facts, or memorized data at lower-level thinking skills. Traditional assessment provides little evidence of what a language learner actually can do with the language.

In order to evaluate what a language learner can do with the language, a student must be evaluated using various performance tasks and assessments.

Performance assessments include authentic assessments, alternative assessments, and integrated performance assessments.

Learners must use more complex, higher-order thinking skills. They must reason, problem-solve, or collaborate with others to produce individual responses. Rubrics, provided ahead of time so learners know their expectations, are used to evaluate students on multiple competency levels.

In Herman, Aschabacher, and Winters, 1992, alternative assessment, authentic assessment, and performance-based assessment “require students to generate rather than choose a response.”

Alternative assessments focus on the students’ strengths — what they can do — allowing the teacher to choose an appropriate assessment for students with different learning styles, maturity levels, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and other characteristics that could affect language performance. While one student may choose to write a response, another student may perform better in a role-play situation.

Although paper and pencil tests can be effective when assessing listening and reading comprehension skills, they are not appropriate assessment methods for performance skills such as speaking and writing. In a balanced assessment program, a variety of assessment techniques should be incorporated into daily instruction.

Authentic assessments combine the traditional academic content with the knowledge and skills needed to function appropriately in the real world. The context, purpose, audience, and focus should connect to real-world situations and problems.

Performance-based assessments require the learner to perform in realistic situations. Students participate in specific tasks, interviews, or performances that are appropriate to the audience and setting.