When planning assessment and skill-using tasks over a period of instruction, it is important to cover a broad range of CLB competencies from the five competency areas (Interacting with Others, Giving/Comprehending Instructions, Reproducing Information, Getting Things Done, and Sharing/Comprehending Information). Assessment and skill-using tasks often address only one CLB competency area, but, occasionally, they may address more. To determine the main competency area(s), ask, “What is the main purpose of the communication?”
As one example, a task such as returning an item to a store and asking for a refund will likely include a greeting and a closing. However, the main purpose of this task is to receive a refund (Getting Things Done), not to maintain an interpersonal relationship through greetings and closures (Interacting with Others), so Getting Things Done would be considered the main competency area for this task.
It’s also important to address a broad range of indicators of ability, as these serve as important criteria for assessment. While the bulleted lists underneath the competency statements (in the CLB document) provide a good starting point, tasks may require additional criteria related to language knowledge (grammatical, textual, functional, sociolinguistic and strategic competence) that are essential to completing the task successfully.
The Number of Artefacts per Skill
To make an informed decision about a learner’s outcome CLB level at the end of a term or reporting period, you will need sufficient evidence to demonstrate the learner’s proficiency across a variety of tasks and competencies, in a range of social situations.
Teachers aim towards 8 to 10 artefacts per skill as the basis for making decisions about benchmark levels. The artefacts should include a balance of skill-using tasks, the everyday classroom tasks in which learners practise what they have been learning, and assessment tasks, tasks that demonstrate what a learner can do in English. For example, in a compilation of nine artefacts, four might be skill-using tasks, and five might be teacher-administered assessment tasks. The balance depends on the type of program and the needs of learners. Remember that skill-building activities are NOT included in portfolios.
Some teachers have said that they feel like they are on a teaching and testing treadmill. If you only include formal assessment tasks (AofL) for portfolio entries, then this is likely true.
Remember that the skill-using tasks (AforL) learners practise as part of routine classroom engagement are also valuable components of the teaching/learning cycle. They help to prepare learners for future assessments tasks, and over a course of study, they can provide opportunities for learners to transfer their learning to new situations and to demonstrate some of the key competencies in new contexts, with diminishing amounts of support. Skill-using and assessment tasks both provide opportunities for learners to demonstrate their learning, but they have different requirements; see Table 2 for a summary of these differences.
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