By Pierre D. Habel, Latin Teacher
Our school values evidence for claims of excellence, and with that in mind our Foreign Language Department has long participated in a variety of external assessments of the value of our curricula and the quality of student learning. Perhaps it is obvious that neither CMAS nor PSAT/SAT-I scores directly indicate quality of course content and student learning in French, Latin, or Spanish. Our department participates in language-specific external assessments. Among these assessments, two most common types are national exams (in French, Latin, or Spanish, sponsored by our disciplines’ professional associations) and Advanced Placement exams. The exams allow students to earn various honors, but also allow teachers to gauge the strength of our programs by reference to national norms. This article seeks to put the achievements of our French, Latin, and Spanish students on national exams into context. On behalf of my colleagues in the Foreign Language Dept., it is my privilege to share this survey of results with families as a testament to the strength of our language programs.
Students in all levels of French participate in Le Grand Concours (the National French Contest). There are five categories of awards on a very rigorous test. On the basis of percentile ranking of scores students may earn cum laude certificates. Platinum award winners achieve the highest score in the nation on their level of the exam. Other awards are earned on the following normed scoring scale:
Students in all levels of Latin participate in the National Latin Exam. Based on percentile ranking of scores students may earn:
For each individual award type Latin Jaguars outperformed the national levels of achievement (for two types they doubled the national average!), and in all but one they exceeded the level attained by their fellow Coloradans.
Students in Spanish-3, Spanish-4, and AP participate in the National Spanish Exam (due to limited financial and computer resources, students in Spanish-1 and Spanish-2 do not test). Awards are earned on the following normed scoring scale:
Over 53.4% of D’Evelyn Spanish students who tested in these three levels received awards, a threshold of achievement which surpasses their national competitors. At individual levels of testing and performance, the green highlighted areas above also indicate surpassing our students’ national peer group. That a clear majority of the individual categories of level and achievement surpassed the global group indicates the overall strength of our Spanish program.
What a strong tribute to our student learning and the curricula and instruction that enable such success on national exams! Look for a summary of our AP Latin and Spanish results soon in an upcoming issue of the Jaguar Tracks!