AIM and Assessment
By Wendy Maxwell
The goal of the Accelerative Integrative Methodology is:
To engage students in rapid development of language proficiency, promote a love of language acquisition, leading to awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity
As the school year comes to a close, many of us turn our attention to assessment!
In order to assess student progress in any subject, learning of the subject must have taken place. In the case of languages, the challenge is that students often do not develop sufficient skills – despite several years of instruction in the subject – to allow them to engage in meaningful conversations or to write lengthy pieces of writing. As a result, the current push around the world has been to ensure that language classes are meaningful – that students DO develop oral and written language proficiency. Hence, we see the CEFR/ACTFL’s:
– 90+ target language only requirement
– identification language proficiency levels as well as
– targets to meet these levels.
The primary goal and unique success of AIM is that students develop language proficiency – both oral and written – and they do so very early in their exposure to the methodology. Hundreds of anecdotal reports from teachers say that they have never seen such high levels of proficiency development in all their years of teaching!
Finally, as teachers, we have something to assess!
Assessment for learning
Assessment with AIM is very easy because the production on the part of the students is extensive. Assessment for learning is a key element of the methodology – the teacher constantly ensures that s/he aware of what students know, what they are still learning and what they will learn next. Constant oral feedback is available to teachers because students speak for almost 100% if class time. This ensures a level of opportunity for assessment that does not exist in any other type of language programming.
Formative or ongoing assessment is part of the teacher’s daily plan as s/he observes students daily – the constant and extensive oral and written output will provide teachers with daily opportunities for formative assessment in the following ways:
– As the teacher gestures, the students speak together, thus providing immediate feedback as to comprehension of words, accent, understanding of grammar concepts etc.
– Students speak constantly during Partner/Group Activities as they work on written activities, ensuring opportunities for teachers to document their ability to engage in authentic interactions
– Students demonstrate developing writing skills in scaffolded daily oral and written language manipulation activities
– The best indicator of proficiency is found in the creative writing samples. In these important AIM activities, teachers assess student ability to demonstrate synthesis of skills:
o higher order thinking (creative and critical),
o acquisition of grammar concepts,
o spelling and
The teacher uses these activities to highlights areas of strengths and weakness in individuals and to look for trends in understanding. Based the information that these activities provide with respect to knowledge of grammar, the teacher develops specific error analysis activities – customizing activities based on student feedback – assessment for learning.
Assessment of Learning
For each AIM Kit there is a separate Assessment Activities Book.
In these book, teachers will find a series of both formative and summative assessment activities. Depending on the book, these may include:
– short vocabulary tests
– a mid-kit and and end-of–kit final assessment package that includes a sight passage and comprehension questions – always in the target language only, of course
– a series of standards-based proficiency assessments that are also scaffolded and that may be used at different points along the implementation of the kits. These tests contain sight passages and tests that assess ACTFL’s/CEFR’s four skill areas:
- Interpretive Listening
- Interpersonal Speaking and Listening;Spoken Interaction/Spoken Production
- Interpretive Reading
- Presentational writing
- Assessment as Learning
Autonomous learning and student self-assessment is an integral component of current thinking in language education.
Student self-assessment and metacognitive development and understanding of language progression is also embedded in the AIM kits.
Portfolio assessment is a key element of each kit in which students reflection their own progress in the target language only. Opportunities for student self-assessment occur both throughout the kit and also at the end, when students:
– create a portfolio of work samples from the kit;
– complete, in the target language only, self-reflection sheets and
– outline learning goals for the next phase of their language acquisition experience.
Once students reflect on their own progress, they are invited to demonstrate what they have learned to parents or other adults, in a ‘portfolio presentation’. The student portfolios may also be shared in a student-led conference. Students are asked to gather work samples form the current Kit and present to parents (or another adult) aspects of each area of the above four language skills, as identified in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines/CEFR’s Portfolio Assessment. The parent (or other adult) provides feedback to the student and teacher on a form provided in the kit.