Standards for Language Assessment

Similar to other institutions of higher education, we use the following grading scale:

93-100% = A         77-79% = C+

90-92% = A-         76-73% = C

87-89% = B+        70-72% = C-

83-86% = B          63-69% = D

80-82% = B-         0-62% = F

Note: Students with more than three unexcused absences in a course will automatically receive an “F” for that course, regardless of their performance.

Every student’s linguistic (grammatical/stylistic) performance in the 7-week program is assessed according to the learning goals of his/her respective level in the German School. The GS learning goals are based largely on the descriptors put forth in The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CERF). More details can be found here:

I. Assessing Participation

A (90-100%) Student contributes regularly; asks relevant questions pertaining to content, style or language; always comes to class well prepared (has prepared all texts and/or homework and is able to answer questions correctly/logically, can demonstrate that he/she has critically engaged with the topic at hand); responds to other students’ answers/comments and is capable of considering intercultural perspectives; gives answers that are complete and comprehensive; attempts circumlocution when encountering an unknown word or concept.

B (80-89%) Student is consistently well prepared; often asks questions pertaining to content, style or language; contributes often but not regularly; responds to other students’ answers/comments and tries to understand others’ perspectives; answers are usually correct or logical but may be lacking in detail; sometimes needs assistance in expressing his or herself (may at times struggle at his/her respective level).

C (70-79%) Student seldom contributes proactively; is generally not well prepared; rarely asks questions pertaining to content, style or language; only answers when called upon; answers often lacking in detail and are sometimes incomprehensible; shows little ability to reflect critically on a matter or to consider multiple perspectives; often needs assistance to make him- or herself understood within the parameters of his or her respective level.

D (63-69%) Makes no voluntary contributions to class; (almost) never asks questions pertaining to content, style or language; waits to be called upon; usually unprepared; gives answers clearly lacking in detail and often incomprehensible or wrong; shows no attempts to take other perspectives or opinions into consideration; linguistically below that which is expected at his or her respective level.

II. Assessing “Referate” and Other Presentations

A (90/100%) The presentation is rich in content, interesting and well organized. The student doesn’t read, but rather speaks freely about the given topic and uses notes only sparingly. He or she presents interesting and appropriate visual material to the topic. He or she maintains eye contact with the other class participants and is able to keep their attention throughout the presentation. The student makes only a few errors; the presentation can be understood with no effort, the style and vocabulary are appropriate for the respective level. If applicable: the student is capable of offering and encouraging multiple perspectives on the matter.

B (80-89%) The presentation is well structured and the content, though lacking in some depth, is appropriate; the presentation is organized and cohesive. The student relies (often) on notes or Powerpoint slides instead of trying to speak freely. Visual materials are appropriately selected, but ultimately not always logically or well incorporated. The student makes a few linguistic errors, but these do not hinder comprehension of the presentation. He or she shows clear attempts at using the appropriate style and language for the topic. If applicable: there are attempts to consider perspectives other than one’s own, but these would need to be developed further.

C/D (60-79%) The presentation is not very convincing and lacks in depth, organization and coherence, making it difficulty to follow. The student reads directly off of notes or Powerpoint slides and doesn’t offer adequate or any visual materials. The student makes many errors that at times entirely hinder comprehension; student does not use appropriate style or vocabulary. If applicable: there is no indication that the student has considered the topic from any other perspective other than his or her own or a conventional and general one.

III. Assessing Essays and Other Written Assignments

A range: This paper meets all expectations of the respective language level. It is linguistically and stylistically appropriate for the topic and level. It is well organized and there are only a few grammatical errors. The ideas (and, where applicable: thesis) presented in the paper demonstrate that the student is aware of the complexity of the topic and acknowledges the possibility of approaching it from various angles. Where applicable: The paper shows that its writer has engaged with (select) research in the field and knows how to incorporate it productively into his paper.

B range: This paper adequately meets the expectations of topic or genre assigned for the level. The text demonstrates some weaknesses in grammar and style that should have been mastered at this level, and a task-specific lexicon is not (too) well developed. Nevertheless, these errors do not hinder comprehension significantly. Where applicable: the text is written solely from the perspective of the student, but he/she indicates that there are other possibilities of approaching the given topic. There is no significant engagement with or incorporation of critical contributions to the topic though students might have consulted secondary literature.

C range: This paper only meets the basic expectations of the task. The student has problems positioning him or herself and does not offer any new ideas or insight into the topic. The text is lacking in appropriate vocabulary. The writing demonstrates major weaknesses in grammar and style that should have been mastered at this level; at times, these errors impede comprehension. Where applicable: the paper is written from the perspective of the student and there is no indication that he or she considered other views or opinions.

D range: The paper only barely meets the basic expectations of the task. The writing is fragmented and incoherent. It is difficult to gain a clear understanding of what the student is trying to say. Vocabulary is used incorrectly and there are major weaknesses in grammar and style that impede comprehension. The paper does not meet the skill standards that a student should have at this level. Where applicable: the paper demonstrates no attempt to consider the topic from an angle different from one’s own.

The German School

Sunderland Language Center
Middlebury College
F: 802.443.2075

Mailing address
German School
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT  05753

Tina Ellison, Coordinator