Assessing Students' Oral Proficiency in an Outcome-Based Curriculum: Student Performance and Teacher Intuitions



This article describes the results of a study conducted with two school districts in order to investigate (a) students' OPI ratings at the end of a typical 4-year sequence of study, (b) the degree to which teachers could accurately predict their students' proficiency ratings, and (c) the relationship between classroom achievement and oral proficiency ratings. Findings indicate that (a) students at a given level of foreign language (FL) study demonstrate a range of OPI ratings; (b) a typical 4-year sequence, for many students, is not sufficient time to attain Intermediate-Low oral proficiency; (c) teachers need some type of OPI training in order to predict accurately their students' OPI ratings using the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines; (d) in a proficiency-oriented curriculum there is a relationship between classroom achievement and students' OPI ratings; and (e) teachers of proficiency-oriented classes have some accurate intuitions regarding their students' oral progress and OPI ratings. This study provides valuable information for states and school districts as they assess student oral performance in an outcome-based or standards-driven curriculum.