How can heritage-specific assessment practices improve learning outcomes?
Assessment for heritage language learners should be situated in and informed by not only their abilities, but their linguistic and cultural backgrounds, relationship to the language, and the experiential knowledge that they bring. HLLs can differ in many ways from other language learners, and goals and learning outcomes should reflect the skill sets of this population. This is important for teachers, students, administrators, and parents, as each will be invested in the progress students make toward developing proficiency in the language based on these heritage-specific objectives.
Assessment that is developed locally and differentiated to accommodate a range of skills can give everyone a better understanding of what students know and how they can improve. In other words, if you know where you are starting from, then you know where you can go!
Using appropriate assessment practices, educators can set goals that are clear, accessible, and accurately reflect students’ needs. They can also use the evidence provided by assessments to redesign or adapt curriculum to better support students in reaching expected outcomes.