PBLA Reporting – Learner Progress Reports and Conferences
Making Judgements about Portfolio Contents
Herbst and Davies (2017, p. 80) comment:
Teacher professional judgement is more reliable and valid then external tests when teachers have been involved in examining student work, co-constructing criteria, scoring the work, and checking for inter-rater reliability.
In all PBLA assessment practices, teachers’ professional judgments are central. From selecting or developing appropriate tasks, choosing or developing assessment tools, giving feedback on writing and speaking performance, to deciding when a learner is ready to progress to the next level, teachers make decisions based on professional interpretation and judgment.
PBLA protocols include Learner Progress Reports (LPRs) and Learner Progress Conferences, both attached to the reporting period.
The PBLA portfolio shows learner growth and achievement. Telling the story of this growth involves gathering evidence, reviewing the evidence and making decisions. But first, it is important to understand what constitutes success in the context of PBLA.
Defining Benchmark “Achievement”
Reviewing the evidence to assign benchmarks requires informed professional judgment embedded in a thorough understanding of CLB expectations. Expectations for learner ability can be found in the Profiles of Ability as well as in the CLB competency statements and indicators for each level, all found in the CLB document (CCLB, 2012a). In addition, the exemplars in the CLB Support Kit (CCLB, 2012b) can help you form realistic expectations about learner abilities.
Benchmark achievement does not require 100% mastery on each task – or even success in every task in each of the four skills. National Placement guidelines state that “As a general rule, the benchmarks assigned to a learner at the time of placement assessment, summative in-class assessment, or high-stakes language test, mean that the learner has achieved, and demonstrated, the level of communicative ability associated with most or all (traditionally, 70 to 100%) of the descriptors for the benchmarks assigned in each of the four skills” (CIC, 2013, p. 3). Therefore, expectation for success on each task should reflect this guideline as well as the set of tasks within each skill.
Gathering Evidence: The evidence supporting your review will include:
As a goal, 8 to 10 artefacts in each of the skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing), including a combination of skill-using and assessment tasks6.
Any observational records (e.g. observation checklists) of learners’ completion of CLB-aligned listening or speaking tasks. (See below.)
Reviewing the Portfolio: Reviewing the evidence in the skill areas to assign benchmarks is not simply a matter of tabulating scores or percentages. Instead, portfolio review uses a combination of analytic and holistic processes. The analytic review involves collecting the necessary artefacts and looking at the performance on individual entries. A holistic review entails taking a step back, widening your perspective to look at ALL entries for a skill as a WHOLE and considering whether the learner demonstrates success consistently, that is, most of the time, at the benchmark level.
In your review, follow these steps:
Check the number of entries. Generally, you are reviewing portfolios after learners have been in class a sufficient number of hours aiming towards 8 to 10 entries for each skill area. The entries should be distributed across the four competency areas and reflect a range of tasks and criteria appropriate to the CLB level.
If a learner has recently moved to your class and was not assigned benchmarks upon leaving the previous class, you should consider all evidence in the learner’s portfolio since benchmarks were last assigned.
Review the assessment tasks (AofL). Look at the tasks over time. More recent assessment tasks should give a clearer indication of current language ability than tasks completed earlier in the semester. Look for trends or particular areas of improvement or concern.
Review the skill-using tasks (AforL). Skill-using tasks give opportunities to practice skills and provide additional evidence of what learners can do in English. They should show growth over time. Within a competency area, does the learner show improvement over the reporting period?
Review observational records. Review any documented observation of learner’s completion of CLB-aligned listening or speaking tasks (e.g. greetings, making requests, apologies) as part of everyday activities of the classroom. Documented observations can be included as artefacts if the tasks are consistent with CLB expectations at the level being assessed.
Assigning BenchmarkLevels: After reviewing the portfolio entries, you will assign a benchmark level. Your guiding question will be: Has the learner achieved the benchmark(s) they are working towards?
Reviewing Progress towards Personal Goals
Progress toward personal goals should also be considered in the review of portfolios, providing understandings that will be important in the learner conference.
Gather evidence from the About Me section of the portfolio, including
Learner goal statement(s)
Learner review of goal statement(s)
Your notes and anecdotal comments relating to skills and strategies a learner has developed during the course that demonstrate personal growth and learning such as the learner’s ability to self-correct or their new independence from an electronic translator.
Review the evidence, asking What progress has the learner made towards their personal language learning goals?
In the conference, the learner will generally take the lead in the review of personal goals, but any notes you take during your review will support the discussion.
6In other CCLB documents, skill-usingand assessment tasks are sometimes described as skill-using activities and assessment tasks. The two phrasings carry the same meaning.
Download the complete PBLA Practice Guidelines 2019
We suggest viewing the Introduction to the PBLA Practice Guidelines 2019
presentation if you have not already done so.