End of the Term

Here we are at the final week! This is when we get to party with our students and taste delicious foods from their countries. It’s also when we get to tackle paperwork connected with testing and evaluation. Actually, there’s not much of that, compared to what teachers in the public schools have to do. LETC’s testing is important for two reasons: it lets us measure each student’s progress and decide who should move up to the next level, and it lets our funders know what a great job LETC is doing.

If we're lucky, someone will bring Salvadoran pupusas to the party.

The volunteer coordinators have sent out e-mails with the schedule for testing and conferencing. Note, though, that a couple of crucial steps in the process are not scheduled because the members of each team decide when and where to do them. It’s good to plan ahead for this. You need the final exam grades to complete the student checklists, and you need the completed checklists to do student-teacher conferences. Here are the basic steps:

1. Give final exams, oral and written. Check the e-mail for your team’s schedule.

2. Grade final exams. Each team decides when and where to do this. The oral exams can be graded on the spot, right after you test each student. For the written exams, you may be able to grade them during the testing session and right afterward. Otherwise, somebody can take them home and grade them. Be sure the tests are back in the class binder by the time your team meets to fill out evaluation checklists.

The written final exams are mainly multiple-choice, which is easy to grade. But some of the tests also ask the students to write a paragraph in response to a question. Grading these is a bit more subjective. It helps to develop a simple rubric so that there’s some consistency. For example, if the question is “Write about the best day in your life. What was the date? What happened?” and the question is worth 15 points, a rubric might look like this:

  • Understood the meaning of “the best day in your life”: 3 points
  • Named a year: 2 points
  • Named a month and day: 2 points
  • Mentioned at least one good thing that happened on that day: 4 points
  • Overall quality of written expression: 1 to 4 points

This allows you to give a student partial credit for understanding the question and responding appropriately even if the level of expression is rudimentary.

Or maybe some enchiladas?

3. Give the CASAS test. This is scheduled by LETC.

4. Complete the student evaluation checklists. It’s up to each team to decide on a time and place. The checklists need to be done after the final exams are graded, but before the conferences. The e-mails from the volunteer coordinators contain copies of the checklist and instructions for filling them out.

Completing the checklists takes a bit of time. Among other things, you need to calculate each student’s attendance. It goes faster if several people get together to do it, either at LETC or somewhere else. The team as a whole should be involved in deciding whether any students need to repeat the level.

Don't forget the dessert table!

5. Hold student-teacher conferences on the last day of class. One teacher can do conferences while the other plays games with the rest of the class, switching off if you like. If the recommendation is that a particular student repeat the level, be prepared to discuss this with him or her, giving lots of positive reinforcement to encourage that student to return.

6. Graduation! Teachers should fill out a certificate for every student who comes to graduation. Some come in while the party’s underway, so bring a few blank certificates with you to the auditorium.

LETC wishes everyone a happy and peaceful holiday season. See you in January!

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