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Final Exam

Many public schools have used the Exprsate Level 2 Spanish textbook in class as both a

teaching tool and a resource for students. It is an intermediate level textbook designed for middle

and high school students learning Spanish as a foreign language. Its intended audience should

have prior knowledge in Spanish, ideally the content in the Level 1 textbook in the same series

that includes beginner language skills and use of the present tense. Based on the National World

Language Standards, this textbook has a user friendly format that gives teachers an abundance of

resources and teaching tools to use within the classroom including chapter assessments, a

midterm exam and a final exam. Many school districts choose to use this textbook series as it is

published by a reputable company. However, in my experience, the resources and assessments

that the book has created are neither reliable nor useful in the classroom.
Because my district curriculum is based off of the Expresate Textbook Series, I am often

modifying the assessments and materials they provide. As a teacher I need to be able to gather

data from the assessments I use in class, and thus I need to be very diligent in planning tests,

quizzes and assignments. With that being said, I normally create my own assessments based on

the material taught in the Expresate Level 2 textbook. In this essay, I will examine a unit exam

that I have personally created which aligns with the Expresate curriculum. To accomplish this

and prove its validity I will analyze what the test measures, how the questions are structured, and

most importantly, its impact on students and their grades.

The test assesses material taught in chapter three of the level 2 textbook. It covers city

places, locations, weather, descriptions of cities, and using the metro. It is intended to be given to

students in the class who have completed chapters 1-3 in the textbook and specifically have

finished the T y tu Comunidad Unit in the course. The students taking the test can range from

10th grade through 12th grade, depending on when they take Spanish 2 throughout their secondary

education. The exam is considered a criterion-referenced test (CRT) in that it assesses language
ability in terms of how much students know in absolute terms, that is, in relation to one or

more standards, objectives, or other criteria, and not with respect to how much other learners

know. (10) Criterion-referenced tests generally grade on percentage of answers students got

correct, rather than on percentile of achievement. In the case of this test, there were five cut

scores in place, one for each letter grade.

Scores are used to evaluate the students progress at the end of the unit and is weighted

more heavily compared to a typical quiz. With that said, teachers, students, parents and even

administrators are all interested in the outcome of the exam. For instance, students and parents

want to know how the exam will affect their overall grade either positively or negatively.

Teachers want to know how his or her students perform on specific objectives to gauge if the

class should move on to a new unit or the teacher should take time to reteach certain concepts.

Administrators may be interested in the data as well as the test has the possibility to affect a

students quarter grade dramatically and contribute to class failure rates. However, it seems as

though that occurs only in rare cases. While a teachers job is not directly dependent on this one

isolated exam, the student achievement results are still an important factor to consider in the

The exam has a total of twenty nine questions and an additional short answer essay.

Teachers administer the test in the classroom and students are unable to use any materials to help

them. The only items needed to take the test are a copy of the exam, an answer sheet and a

number two pencil. The test has a total of four sections: listening, reading, vocabulary and

grammar, and writing. Most of the test is written in multiple choice or true and false questions,

however there are also several constructed response questions as well as one short answer. Due

to the tests length, it is advised that students are allotted at least an hour to take the exam, if not

longer, and students requiring extra accommodations should be provided with such. It is also
recommended that the classroom teacher give the exam in that someone with an advanced

knowledge of Spanish is needed for proctoring. The test is a summative, discrete point

assessment that is graded both objectively and subjectively given that there are various styles of

The test begins with a listening section in which the students will watch a video clip. The

clip is a commercial for the Metro in Madrid, Spain that was released in 2009. As the watch the

video, they have multiple choice comprehension questions to answer in Spanish that shows they

were able to recognize what was going on in the commercial. Some questions are simple and the

video itself can give clues to the answers, however for most questions students need to listen to

the target language in the video to select their response. After the video clip is played, the

students also have two short answer questions to respond to in English that ask about the cultural

perspectives of using the Metro. Students would be able to use prior knowledge from the unit

along with their own personal experiences to answer these culture questions. This is an authentic

listening activity because it is an actual commercial for the Metro made for native Spanish

speakers. This section addresses the units cultural objectives about using the Metro in Spain.

While the questions are quite simple, the language in the clip is very fast and so to compensate

for this, easier questions were used to assess the main ideas. Because I chose to use an authentic

source, it was naturally at a higher level of language than my students currently perform and thus

the comprehension questions were modified appropriately.

The reading section includes a paragraph narrated by a woman who lives in Barcelona.

She describes where she lives, what there is to do in the city, and her opinion of living in

Barcelona hitting the majority of the units objectives. Students are required to read the passage

and answer true and false questions to demonstrate their understanding of the material. Due to

their intermediate level, the true false statements are in Spanish, and the answers can all be
proven within the text or inferred from context clues. If revising this test to use in future years, I

may add more comprehension questions in Spanish that are multiple choice to elicit higher level

thinking in order to determine the answer.

The bulk of the test assesses knowledge of vocabulary and grammar points covered in the

unit. All of the sections are effective in that they assess key objectives from the unit. Within the

vocabulary and grammar portion, questions are isolated into sections determined by what they

are assessing. This helps students narrow down the possible answer choices because the majority

of questions are constructed response fill in the blanks. The section with city vocabulary was

written with a word bank because students could interpret several possible answers without

options. On the other side of the coin, they also could be completely lost without a word bank.

However in the weather section, no word bank was provided because this is more of a review of

concepts learned in Spanish 1. The section assessing the concept of using quantitative adjectives

not only evaluates the grammar of how to use them but also the meaning of the words

themselves. The final grammar section calls for students to create their own sentences that state

the location of specific places. Overall, each individual section is concise in the learning

objective it needs to assess on the exam.

The final writing section involves a short answer essay in which students are to choose a

city and describe it in detail. This essay is a culmination of all language concepts they learned

throughout the unit, and it also gives students the opportunity to include any cultural information

they have learned. The essay hits all major unit objectives and students are graded on

grammatical accuracy as well as spelling and punctuation. I chose to incorporate a writing task

such as this one because there were some unit objectives that were a major part of the unit

however they were not assessed in the vocabulary and grammar section. For example, in the unit

students learned how to describe cities with adjectives and state why they like or dislike them.
Since description is a level 1 concept in our Spanish curriculum, I chose to incorporate it in the

reading section for comprehension of vocabulary, and then let students construct their own

descriptions in the final writing section. This allows me to gather data on how well students can

understand the language of city description but also how well they can affectively perform the

objective themselves.
For a unit exam, this test is seemingly reliable in that the majority of the test can be

scored objectively. Also, I can estimate my students doing fairly well on the exam because I

create all of my lessons and assessments following a backward design model. In this method, I

start with what I want the students to be able to do with the language, and then from there I

create lessons that will teach them such language and assessments that will score their

progression and proficiency. It is a practical assessment that is easily administered and resources

to take the exam are readily available. It uses authentic materials and stimulates real life

language use by incorporating several forms of communication. The one element absent from

this unit assessment, however, is a speaking portion. While students are assessed on the language

they are producing on their own, they are only producing it in written form. Because of this,

when I give this unit assessment, I also pair it with a brief oral test in which students are to

respond to unit topics in the target language. The oral test would incorporate all of the same

material as the written exam, however teachers would be able to assess their pronunciation,

conversational speech and fluency. If the speaking component is left out, then the teacher is not

able to accurately assess his or her students on all unit objectives because not all forms of

communication can be evaluated. While writing and reading skills are important and written test

data can provide a lot of useful data, it is important to test all areas of communication so that

students can progress evenly as they develop proficiency.

In conclusion, I believe that this is a reliable test to use in the classroom for both teachers

and students. It takes all unit concepts and assesses how well a student knows the material

through three modes of communication: listening, reading and writing. The test itself is

comprehensive, and after students finish the exam, the teacher will have a clear idea of what

areas his or her students did well on as well as the areas that may need some more attention. The

directions are clear and concise throughout each section of the test and questions were designed

in a way to avoid negative washback. While I personally enjoy administering more interactive

performance based assessments, this exam has its advantages in the ways that it evaluates aspects

that are sometimes missed in such performances such as listening and reading comprehension as

well as writing mechanics. Teachers can easily use data from this assessment to interpret how

well his or her students have understood the material and they also are able to analyze what the

students can produce on their own in writing. If all unit assessments are designed like this

specific test, and teachers make a conscious effort to incorporate separate oral assessments

throughout the unit, they will have created reliable and authentic assessments that measure

students proficiency in the target language.

Carr, N. T. (2011). Designing and Analyzing Language Tests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.