Now that you are familiar with the proficiency levels, it is time to set realistic expectations for your students. The last thing you want is for them, and you, to be frustrated. Think about your own or a child’s language learning experience. First they say words (many difficult to understand), then phrases, and then eventually sentences. I used to “force” my students to always answer in complete sentences. Now I understand that there is an important progression of language learning.


First let’s look at some research. This 2010 study from the University of Oregon states that most U.S. students are at Novice High/Intermediate Low after 4 years of the language. I find this disappointing. After 4 years, most could only use simple sentences. As the leaders of our classroom, WE create the learning environment to push them to do more if we keep our focus on proficiency.

Here are the JCPS proficiency expectations and corresponding grades:

I have used this for 3 years and it seems to be very appropriate and motivating for my students. I’ve seen the JCPS data and we are achieving NH on the STAMP test in level 1 now.

Remember that one size does not fit all. Also students will develop their language at different rates. So if a student takes all year to reach NH, should their grade be lowered because of NM scores earlier in the year? This is the number 1 reason my Final Assessments are worth 40% of their grade. I would make it worth more if I could. Furthermore, I have set some individual goals lower for specific students based on their background and learning plans (IEP). For example, I had a student who loved Spanish that wanted to take Spanish 3 her Senior year. The last time she had Spanish was Sophomore year and she learned mostly grammar. After she did a pre-assessment, we set her goal one level lower. In the end, she ended up catching up with the rest of the class anyways.

Do you set proficiency expectations for your students?