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by Erica Fischer on Mar 23, 2015

Make Integrated Performance Assessments Work for Your Students!

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Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  ASBIndia1 

Last week, #langchat participants met to chat about integrated performance assessments (IPAs). They began by discussing IPA content, set-up, and execution. Participants then reflected on how to assess and provide feedback on an IPA and commented on anything else that instructors might need to account for in creating and implementing an IPA. Lots of instructors turned out early, ready to dive into the topic, with @CadenaSensei writing, “I can already tell from the stellar crowd it’s going to be an awesome #langchat tonight!” By the end of the hour, heads were spinning: “My head is spinning right now, #langchat!” yet participants were still eagerly awaiting a #langchat Saturday sequel!

Thank you to all those who tuned in last week and to last week’s moderating team, Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Cristy (@msfrenchteach), John (@CadenaSensei), Kris (@KrisClimer), Laura (@SraSpanglish), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell)!

Question 1: What does the content of an IPA look like to you?

At the start of the hour, @MlleSulewski offered a basic definition of an IPA: “[The combination of an interpretive] task, interpersonal task, [and] presentational task, linked to common theme.” Some participants noted that having “[interconnected tasks] is the ideal but sometimes [it’s] not possible” (@ericsonellen). @SECottrell wrote that interconnectedness is not necessary: “[If] I can make a good three modes with two scenarios, why not?”

Several Langchatters emphasized the importance of creating IPAs with real world relevance. @senorarobbins felt that an IPA “definitely uses the three modes of communication, and also [has a] real world application!” @SoyBolingual agreed that an IPA should be “communication-driven [and as] close to real life as we can get in a classroom!”

Question 2: How do you effectively set up and execute an IPA?

Participants seemed to agree that an IPA should be planned backwards. @CoLeeSensei encouraged instructors to “[start] with END in mind!” and @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “I think about what I really want my students to be able to do when they leave my class…then [I] find themes and plan backwards.”

Langchatters also shared their thoughts on IPA execution. @SraSpanglish said, “I post all 3 steps as separate assignments on Google Classroom, [have students] go through them all, [and] let [them] work at their [own] pace over [two] days.” @CadenaSensei also spreads IPAs over a few days and explained how he keeps students busy, assessing two modes simultaneously: “[It’s] not [a] ‘true’ format but I have [students] work on [an interpretive reading task] while I call them up [one] at a time to do [interpersonal speaking] with me.” @SECottrell suggested one way to make connections between tasks: “Students use [an] interpretive source (1 print, 1 audio, 1 [graphic]) to inform [a] presentational task (infographic, poster, OPINION).”

Question 3: How do you assess and provide feedback on an IPA?

When it comes to IPA evaluation, many Langchatters agree that rubrics are essential. @CoLeeSensei wrote, “[Rubrics] are key and tell [students] what we are looking for!” and @MlleSulewski added, “[A detailed] rubric [is good] to show areas of strength and struggle.”

Langchatters also reflected on the ideal time to provide students with feedback. @SoyBolingual asked, “Do you give feedback after each IPA task?,” adding, “[I feel] it would help [students] to get a fresh start on [the] following task.” @MlleSulewski wrote that she “[usually provides] immediate feedback after interpersonal [assessment]” and @profelopez716 agreed that immediate feedback is important: “I think assessment can vary but feedback needs to be instant. [Students] want to know immediately what they did well on.”

Participants shared their thoughts on the shape that feedback should take. @SECottrell wrote, “[Student] feedback [should be] 100% proficiency language – [If students] want to know the ‘grade’ they have to look online.” Langchatters highlighted the importance of emphasizing the positive in providing feedback on proficiency. @muchachitaMJ said, “[It’s so] important to CELEBRATE successes! [Highlight] 1 or 2 examples of growth [or] creativity [and] 1 thing to [work] on.” @profelopez716 commented, “I like how you emphasize [what students] DO rather than don’t. It gives [them] confidence in knowing they did something right.” Other participants noted that students could also self-evaluate, using the same rubric created by instructors. @SrtaNRodriguez said, “[Having students] reflect and [self-assess] is also helpful. [Teachers’] feedback is important but so is [students’] own awareness of meaningful [language].” Lastly, @CadenaSensei pointed out that rubrics could be used to provide feedback on overall class proficiency trends: “I use [the] same rubrics [that] I [use to] assess any single performance assessment, and give [the] whole class feedback on trends I saw when done.”

Question 4: What else do we need to account for when creating and implementing an IPA?

Before signing off Twitter, participants shared some final advice about what to account for in designing and implementing IPAs. Here are some important things to consider:

1. Don’t overdo it! As participants noted, it takes time to provide meaningful feedback on IPAs. @SraClouser observed, “IPAs require TIME! [With] 75 [students] in level 4 it can take a long time to provide timely feedback.” For this reason, they encouraged instructors to limit the number of IPAs and provide more detailed feedback on assessments. @SECottrell said, “[I’m] going to bring this back up – these take a long time to grade. Giving good feedback is more important than doing [frequent] IPAs.”

2. Foster risk-taking. Participants noted that students should be encouraged in order to promote risk-taking, which can lead to growth. @SraClouser wrote, “I would say reward risk-takers who communicate effectively!”

3. Keep IPAs current and interesting. Langchatters acknowledged the importance of updating IPAs from time to time in order to incorporate student interests and current events. @SrtaLibertad221 said, “I feel like we need to account for current ‘events’ or interests. [Our IPAs] might need to be updated.” @spanishsundries added, “Interest is SO important. [Motivation] is [the] #1 problem, [so you] have to do everything you can to motivate!”

4. Allow time for growth. @SoyBolingual wrote, “You need enough time between IPAs for growth to happen. [You don’t] want to fall into [an over-testing] trap!”

5. Ask yourself… “Are they ready for the IPA?” (@axamcarnes). Participants mentioned the importance of adequately preparing students before presenting them with an IPA.


Langchatters provided lots of suggestions on how to design and implement effective IPAs. They highlighted the importance of designing assessments with real world relevance, encouraged instructors to plan backwards, and emphasized the value of detailed feedback with a healthy dose of encouragement. Participants also offered some final advice of things to take into account when creating and implementing an IPA. @CadenaSensei pointed out that instructors need not strive to create the ‘perfect’ IPA, writing, “IPA is a tool. We can modify that tool to fit our purposes! [It’s better] to be ‘good’ than ‘right’.” @SrtaOlson echoed this sentiment, reassuring instructors: “[Try] not to get TOO caught up in the logistics of it all – focus on building your [students’] skills however best you can!”

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to an energy-filled IPA chat! Remember: now you can also join us on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET – Same questions, more chat time!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

One comment

  • Kim

    Thank you for this writeup! I’m getting ready to try my first IPA this week, and was concerned about how to both assess 25 students in a single room and run the entire IPA in a timely manner. Looks like using a combination of self-directed progress and pulling students out for the Interpersonal segment will allow me to get through to each student in a timely manner.

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