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Grading Criteria

Assessment and Grading in the Department of Romance Languages

The mission of the Department is the production and dissemination of knowledge about the languages, literatures, and cultures of the French-, Italian-, Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking worlds and to foster the intellectual growth of students of these languages. Our goal is to create conscious members of a global community, with a profound awareness of social and cultural diversity, and with a strong understanding and appreciation of Romance-speaking communities in the USA and abroad.
The charts below outline the basic expectations we have for our students and the types of assessment instruments we use to measure their progress and success. Our objectives and pedagogies for language and cultural learning are constantly evolving; this page will be updated occasionally.
The commitment of the Department of Romance Languages to a unified notion of the “Romance world” is clearly expressed in our parallel programs across languages at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and in the intense collaboration required to provide equivalent experiences across the three sectors, in spite of substantial differences in enrollments, staffing, and diversity of cultures represented. For the sake of brevity, the objectives and assessments outlined in this document represent a composite of practices across the four sectors, glossing over minor differences among programs. Not every program will address every topic or function listed below, nor will students necessarily find every assessment type in each program.
Our unit is also committed to the proven, research-based formula of relatively small classes that provide students with the necessary conditions for language acquisition through input and extensive interaction. This attention to individual learner differences extends to addressing the needs of students with diverse backgrounds: we offer individualized instruction for Heritage learners of Spanish, and we accommodate the learning and testing needs of students with disabilities.


Lower-division courses (100 and 200 levels)

Topics and functions adapted from the Oregon Oral/Signed Communication Benchmarks ( and the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning (

Level Topics Functions
  • self
  • calendar/time
  • classroom/school
  • family
  • season/weather
  • clothing
  • food
  • home
  • leisure/activities
  • places
  • community
  • daily routines/schedule
  • stores/shopping
  • health
  • occupations
  • celebrations/holidays
  • travel/vacations
  • transportation
  • make and respond to greetings and introductions
  • express quantity
  • respond to basic commands
  • give address/phone number
  • state likes and dislikes
  • express frequency
  • provide simple descriptions/evaluations
  • tell time
  • express needs/obligations
  • extend/accept/reject invitations
  • ask predictable questions
  • give/obtain permission
  • state reasons
  • give directions
  • make suggestions
  • report events
  • conduct basic/predictable transactions
  • identify basic products and practices in target cultures
  • compare products and practices in target and US cultures
  • identify basic geographic and demographic features of
    target-language regions
200 all topics from 100 level, plus…

  • music
  • art
  • geography
  • history
  • changes in society/culture
  • literature
  • study abroad
  • media and communication
  • environment
all functions from 100 level plus…

  • ask extensive questions
  • identify numerous products and practices from target culture
  • compare products and practices in target and US cultures
  • compare perspectives in target and US cultures
  • narrate consistently in present and future time frames;
    narration is emergent
  • identify important historical events in target-language

Assessments include written and oral exams, grammar and vocabulary quizzes, homework in both written and on-line formats, recordings in Voiceboards, written compositions and oral presentations.


Upper-division courses (300-400 levels)

Evaluation is based on content expertise and language proficiency. Any or all of the following criteria will be applied to assignments, or additional criteria may be included, as appropriate for the task.



A (outstanding)

B (very good)

C (sufficient)

D (insufficient)

Content assignment contains copious detail, interesting, relevant, and accurate information goes beyond basic information; details are accurate and relevant assignment has only basic information; minimally covers topic or some information is not relevant or accurate little or mostly irrelevant information; many inaccuracies
Academic language ideas are expressed clearly, with grammatical accuracy; excellent connections and transitions between ideas; evidence of use of spell-checker ideas are expressed clearly, with limited errors; logical transitions; evidence of use of spell-checker ideas are comprehensible, but some information is incomplete or incoherent; transitions are sometimes missing; evidence of use of spell-checker some ideas are incomprehensible or disorganized; few logical connections or transitions; contains non-standard language; no use of spell-checker
L2 proficiency (global rating): 300 level Proficiency is ACTFL Advanced Low or CEFR B2 Proficiency is at ACTFL Intermediate High or CEFR B1 Proficiency is at ACTFL Intermediate High or CEFR B1 Proficiency is at or below ACTFL Intermediate Mid or CEFR A2
L2 proficiency (global rating): 400 level Proficiency is above ACTFL Advanced Low or CEFR B2 Proficiency is at ACTFL Advanced Low or CEFR B2 Proficiency is at ACTFL Advanced Low or CEFR B2 Proficiency is below ACTFL Advanced Low or CEFR B2
Research well-documented work, drawing on multiple sources (library, internet, etc.) with correct use of citations; citations are well integrated into text library and internet sources are used; correct use of citations are well integrated into text only internet sources are used; minor problems with citation; very little missing information poor use of sources; incomplete or incorrect citation
Originality well synthesized research material, genuinely original language solid synthesis of researched material minimal synthesis of researched material; minimal recasting of ideas in original language; heavy use of cited material little synthesis of research; overuse of cited material




Director of Undergraduate Studies
Gina Herrmann
220 Friendly Hall