Data is the Secret when it comes to Language Proficiency

Data is the Secret when it comes to Language Proficiency

A data-driven approach to language proficiency helps Hebrew at the Center turn Hebrew students into Hebrew speakers.

How do you get the most out of your language program at your school?

For many schools across the country, the answer is the same: Hebrew at the Center. The nonprofit organization works with schools of all sizes across the country to help them create high performing language programs that align with their vision and goals to promote the Hebrew language and culture.

So, what is this program’s secret? Data.

Hebrew at the Center uses a data-driven proficiency approach to prepare teachers and help build language programs that create truly proficient Hebrew speakers, a task that’s easier said than done for many language programs.

“In schools where most Hebrew language teachers are native speakers, but do not necessarily have a background in language education, it’s important to give them the tools to maximize their student outcomes and  integrate language and culture throughout their curriculum,” explained Arnee Winshall, President & CEO of Hebrew at the Center.

These schools wanted to invest more in the professional development of their teachers, introducing cutting edge tools from the second language acquisition field, in particular focusing on assessment. That’s why, six years ago, Hebrew at the Center turned to Avant, and the two organizations worked together to develop the first Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency (STAMP) test for Hebrew.

Still, schools weren’t on board with language testing right away. Many schools where Hebrew is taught don’t have a budget for assessment. “Just getting schools used to the idea of assessment was a challenge. But when we showed them how Avant can provide cost-effective, reliable data to track student progress over multiple years, they began to understand the value. Our advisors work with schools to analyze this data in order to measure student progress against clearly articulated expectations,” said Winshall.

The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School community was struck by the rapid improvement its students experienced once the pedagogic approach was changed with the help of Hebrew at the Center and Avant’s tools.

“Having in-depth data to back up these results not only helped to validate the new approach, but it allowed teachers to continue to adjust and improve their methods, and work with specific students on their strengths and weaknesses. Everyone at our school has bought into the proficiency approach now,” said Daniella Friedman, the school’s Hebrew Language Program Director for K-5.

Winshall says that Avant’s team presents the data in a straight forward, intuitive format with actionable insights that help language teachers make a big difference in their approach. It’s a true team effort, with Avant, Hebrew at the Center, and school leadership working together to help teachers differentiate and individualize teaching and learning for the benefit of their students.

“With this approach, we encourage a focus on what the students can do with the language skills they’ve learned as opposed to whether they can memorize and repeat information,” said Winshall. “Avant’s assessment tools have been invaluable to us, the schools, and the teachers in order to understand which interventions are having the greatest impact.”

Hebrew at the Center requires all of the schools they work with to have an assessment plan that tracks progress against measurable goals, and they always recommend Avant.

For more information about the Avant STAMP language proficiency test for Hebrew, click here.

For more information about Hebrew at the Center, Inc., click here.

Click here to read more about the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and their impressive results after working with Hebrew at the Center and changing their approach.

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