Sneak Peek: How I designed a digital comprehension placement test for Spanish speaking students.
Heritage speakers come to our classes at varying levels and some of them slip through the cracks in classes that are not appropriate for their ability. The beginning of the year is hectic and trying to assess a large number of students is tedious. Not to mention, we have to get students properly placed ASAP as to not disturb the rest of their class schedule. After a couple of years of stumbling through student placement, I finally decided to create a digital assessment to streamline the process.
I needed the assessment to be easy to grade so I created a Google Form that is self-correcting. The aim of this assessment is to find out if a student can understand Spanish both spoken & written. Additionally, this assessment provides me with a writing sample so I can see how well they are able to write in Spanish. This writing sample is not as crucial for initial placement but can be saved for later when I want to get a better understanding of where my students are at in regards to writing ability.
This digital comprehension assessment is divided into four parts:
Video con texto
This first section of the assessment is the easiest as students watch a short cartoon that includes both the audio and subtitles in Spanish. Students answer multiple-choice comprehension questions that are automatically graded once they submit their Google Form.
Video sin texto
The second part of the assessment is similar except subtitles are not included. Students hear Spanish as they watch the video, but there is not any text support.
Texto sin audio
The third section of the assessment is not a video but rather a comic in Spanish. Students read the images and answer a single question about the main point of the comic. This tells me if the student is able to comprehend written Spanish without any aural input.
Audio sin texto ni imágenes
Finally, I collect a writing sample from the student. On the final section of the Google Form assessment, the student is instructed to listen to the audio (no images or video) of a short story. Using a blank sheet of paper they write a short summary in Spanish of the story they just heard.
The first three sections will give me a good idea of whether or not the student can comprehend spoken and written Spanish. If the student can score well on those first three sections, that tells me that they are proficient enough to gain entrance to the Heritage Speakers class. The writing sample is collected as a means to further assess their abilities but I may not get around to assessing this until later. The first week of school is quite busy, so my main focus is general placement. Once I know whether or not students are in the right classes, I then take a further look at the writing samples to see where their collective skills are as we begin the year.
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