MCL department introduces LPA assessment in place of final
February 21, 2017
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The MCL department has replaced the traditional final with a Language Performance Assessment (LPA), which appears to be widely beneficial.
Originally, the MCL final was administered during a regular 90 minute testing period of finals week. The majority of the test was multiple choice, a format that many teachers considered restricting.
As a result of this limitation, many teachers administered the speaking or listening parts of the final days before the actual test.
“In years past we’ve been constrained to the 90 minute time period, and then a quick turnaround to get exams back, so that made it difficult to have students write or speak in any kind of extended way,” French teacher Judy Weiss said. “Even if we wanted to test students on listening or speaking, we couldn’t do it in the time frame because of proctors and technology issues.”
According to Spanish teacher Tonya Piscitello, the MCL teachers were unable to test a spectrum of skills in the final, because the format was primarily multiple choice with minimal short answer.
“Essentially, when you look at a [multiple] choice, it’s item analysis. You’re not really being asked to produce the language. We would really like to know what our students have learned, and I can’t know what you’ve learned by just item analysis per se,” said Piscitello.
There are a few significant differences between the LPA and the traditional MCL final.
First, the LPA was before winter break and all of the other core final exams, so MCL students did not have to take a language exam during the week of regular finals.
Students seemed to enjoy taking the LPA earlier, and among students and teachers, the general consensus seemed to be that the LPA was less stressful because of the timing.
“I definitely like having the LPA before finals because it lowers the stress for the language exam and helps open up the rest of finals week so you can focus on other classes,” senior Danny Fay said.
Students also felt that the exam was more relevant to the recent class material, and that the exam was overall easier to handle.
Senior Bridget Carmody said she liked the new assessment because, “it was less stress about worrying about the final. The final itself felt more manageable, and I think that’s because [the teachers] were forced to fit the final into two or three class days.”
This LPA also gave teachers the flexibility to decide what format they would use to test students on their knowledge.
“For example, some teachers gave projects. For other teachers, they gave the same kind of test with listening, speaking, and writing, but in a way that was more global, without nitpicky questions,” said Piscitello.
During the week before finals, most language classes resumed their curriculum, with lighter loads of homework and classwork.
“In the time before all of our normal finals, my class moved on with our classwork but it was definitely lighter than usual, Helen Kuhn said.
“We didn’t have any tests or quizzes, which I think is because our teacher didn’t want to give us extra work on top of studying for finals,”
To gain a more detailed understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the LPA, the MCL department gave students and faculty a survey asking opinions on the new exam.
While the results have not been finalized, informal discussions in class led to the overall agreement that the LPA was a better experience than the traditional MCL final.
As Piscitello put it, “[The LPA] is showcasing your semester and what you know, which is something that the MCL final didn’t do.”