Some years ago here in the PLC, Laura Censis wrote intelligently about how to communicate with parents about how we grade in our non-targeted approach:
Spanish I students do not start this course with significant Spanish skills. They are here to absorb the language (receiving input) and they need hundreds or thousands of hours of input before they can be expected to provide output. Since they are acquiring language through input, not learning it by memorizing, it is crucial for the student to strive to always pay attention and, when appropriate, to respond verbally and nonverbally with one word answers or physical gestures. This is the student’s number one responsibility in this class.
Think of what it was like working with a baby in their first language – communication begins with the baby’s close attention to the caregiver’s face and the interaction of facial expressions between them. The mother’s talk supplements the facial expressions and actions. After a certain amount of this input, the mother talks to the baby and expects her words to be understood and expects more of a response from the baby: when asked “where is the toy?”, the baby will either look under the pillow, showing it understands, or continue to stare at the mother without looking showing he doesn’t understand.
Similarly, my primary form of assessment is student interaction. A student who responds consistently and promptly to simple questions with yes or no or signals thati I am being unclear is interacting with me, and when they are listening, their facial expression communicate to me that s/he understands or doesn’t. This is the best assessment I can ask for, and is the responsibility of the student to provide it to me. That is why I remind them to sit up, move their hands away from their faces and turn their bodies toward me, so they will be in the best position to successfully interact with me.
(Then, anticipating another question:)
Mom: What if a student gets 100s on the exit quizzes but does not meet the Interaction rubric? Teacher: The exit quizzes at the end of class are true-false questions. This format is used because students have not heard enough language to be able to provide words on their own until well into Spanish II. As any student has a 50/50 chance of getting the answer correct, it is not the most accurate form of assessment.