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With the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in December 2001, pressure has been placed on schools and districts to include as many students as possible, including English language learners (ELLs), in large-scale assessment programs. Standardized tests are designed to measure a representative sample of knowledge defined by state and local standards and curricula. For ELLs in U.S. public schools, standardized test results often reflect limited proficiency in English and a lack of opportunity to learn the subject matter of the tests (Pierce, 2002).
For both standardized and performance assessments, application of the following principles will produce effective assessment procedures:
Identify the purpose of the assessment and the learning that is to be assessed
Select assessment instruments and procedures that match the program's learning goals
Use multiple measures to present a more complete picture of what students have learned
Ensure that adequate resources are available to carry out the assessments (National Center for ESL Literacy Education, 2002).
National Center for ESL Literacy Education. (2002). NCLE fact sheet: Assessment with adult English language learners. Washington, DC: Author.
Pierce, L. V. (2002). Performance-based
assessment: Promoting achievement for English language learners. ERIC/CLL
News Bulletin, 26, 1. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages
Adult ESL Learner Assessment: Purposes and Tools
Alternative Assessment and Second Language Study: What and Why?
Assessment Portfolios: Including English Language Learners in Large-Scale Assessments
Basic Assessment Concepts for Teachers and School Administrators
Considerations in Developing and Using Computer-Adaptive Tests to Assess Second Language Proficiency
English Language Learners and High-Stakes Tests: An Overview of the Issues
Grading Students' Classroom Writing: Issues and Strategies
in Accountability and Assessment for Adult ESL Instruction
Learner Assessment in Adult ESL Literacy
Practical Ideas On Alternative Assessment For ESL Students
Statewide Assessment Programs: Policies and Practices for the Inclusion of Limited English Proficient Students
Technology-Delivered Assessment: Guidelines for Educators Traveling the Technology Highway
Test Accommodations for LEP Students
Simulated Oral Proficiency Interviews: Recent Developments
Alderson, C. (2000). Assessing reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, J. D. (Ed.). (1998). New ways of classroom assessment. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Buck, G. (2001). Assessing listening. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cohen, A. (1994). Assessing language ability in the classroom (2nd ed.). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Douglas, D. (2000). Assessing
languages for specific purposes. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Gonzalez, V, Brusca-Vega, R., & Yawkey, T. (1997). Assessment and instruction of culturally and linguistically diverse students with or at-risk of learning problems: From research to practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Hancock, C.R. (Ed.). (1994). Teaching, testing, and assessing: Making the connection. Northeast Conference Reports. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co.
Holmes, D., Hedlund, P., & Nickerson, B. (2000). Accommodating ELLs in state and local assessments. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.
Hurley, S. R., & Tinajero, J. V. (2001). Literacy assessment of second language learners. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Illinois State Board of Education Assessment Division. (1998). The
language proficiency handbook: A practitioner's guide to instructional
Illinois State Department of Education.
Luoma, Sari. (2004). Assessing speaking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Martinez, R. (1999). Assessment:
A development guidebook for teachers of English-language learners.
Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.
O'Malley, J.M., & Valdez Pierce, L. (1996). Authentic assessment for English language learners: Practical approaches for teachers. New York: Addison-Wesley.
Pupura, J. (2004). Assessing
grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Read, J. (2000). Assessing vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. (1998). Managing the assessment process: A framework for measuring student attainment of the ESL standards. Alexandria, VA: Author.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (2001). Scenarios for ESL standards-based assessment. Alexandria, VA: Author.
Weigle, S. C. (2002). Assessing writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The Center for Equity and Excellence in Education Test Database
Maintained by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, this database offers abstracts and descriptions of almost 200 tests commonly used with ESL students, organized by test purpose.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment
This site offers links to a number of research organizations interested in assessment. They also offer a test locator service (see Buros Institute Description) and a full-text Internet library, which offers excerpts from books, papers, articles, and website texts on critical issues.
The Center for Applied Linguistics maintains this page, which includes links to publications; a listserv; and a searchable database that includes survey information of states, districts, and schools that are involved in using the ESL Standards for curriculum, assessment, and professional development purposes.
Standards Implementation Database
This searchable database includes the survey information of states, districts, and schools that are involved in using the ESL Standards for curriculum, assessment, and professional development purposes. This information is intended to facilitate communication among practitioners working on standards-based educational reforms that include English language learners (ELLs).
for English Language Acquisition (NCELA)
This site offers a searchable bibliographic database that includes more than 20,000 citations and abstracts dealing with all aspects of the education of linguistically diverse students. NCELA makes many important papers available online. Browse their Online Librar. See especially NCELA Online Library, Assessment and Accountability Section.
Teachers of English
to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
This organization developed the Standards for K–12 ESL programs, which form the basis for many school, district, and state ESL curricula. Read the standards online.
TESL-L, for those involved in teaching English as a Second Language. You may join BY: sending an electronic message to LISTSERV@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU
Leave the subject line of your message blank and--for a text--write the following:
SUB TESL-L <YOUR NAME>
The goal of K12ASSESS-L is to provide educators with a fast, convenient, and topical electronic discussion forum focusing on issues related to educational assessment in grades K–12.
testing research and practice)
LTEST-L is an open forum for discussion on issues pertaining to language testing theory and research. The members are mainly university professors and graduate students but there are also researchers in such institutions as the Educational Testing Service.
Information on obtaining the documents listed below can be found at the end of this section or by clicking here. These documents were identified by searching the ERIC database using the following combination of ERIC descriptors:
English (Second Language)
An Assessment of ESL Writing Placement Assessment.
Assessing Writing, v8 n1 p17-30 2002
Considers what the best assessment practices are for ESL (English as a Second Language) and international students at two- and four-year institutions in the United States. Presents results of an Internet search of one set of prominent American institutions' placement practices. Argues that second language composition specialists need to examine their placement practices and aim for a reconciliation of these practices with their classroom pedagogies.
Exploring Task Difficulty in ESL Listening Assessment.
Brindley, Geoff; Slatyer, Helen
Language Testing, v19 n4 p369-94 Oct 2002
Reports on an exploratory study that investigated the comparability of listening assessment tasks used to assess and report learning outcomes of adult English-as-a-Second-Language learners in Australia. Focused on the effects of task characteristics and task conditions on learners' performance in competency-based listening assessment tasks that require learners to demonstrate specific listening behaviors.
Using Portfolios To Assess the Writing of ESL Students: A Powerful Alternative?
Song, Bailin; August, Bonne
Journal of Second Language Writing, v11 n1 p49-72 Feb 2002
Describes a quantitative study that compared the performance of two groups of advanced English-as-a-Second-Language students in a second semester composition course at the City University of New York (CUNY). Results suggest that students were twice as likely to pass into the second semester course when they were evaluated by portfolio rather than by the CUNY Writing Assessment Test (WAT).
The Effects of Nonnative Accents on Listening Comprehension: Implications for ESL Assessment.
Major, Roy C.; Fitzmaurice, Susan F.; Bunta, Ferenc; Balasubramanian, Chandricka
TESOL Quarterly, v36 n2 p173-90 Sum 2002
Examined the extent to which native-English speaking and English-as-a-Second-Language listeners performed better on a test when the speaker shared their native language. Four groups of listeners with different native languages heard lectures presented in English by speakers of different native languages. Both native and nonnative listeners scored lower on listening comprehension tests when they listened to nonnative speakers.
Discourse Approaches to Writing Assessment.
Connnor, Ulla; Mbaye, Aymerou
Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, v22 p263-78 2002
Discusses assessment of English-as-a-Foreign/Second-Language (EFL/ESL) writing. Suggests there is a considerable gap between current practices in writing assessment and criteria suggested by advances in knowledge of discourse structure. Illustrates this by contrasting current practices in the scoring of two major EFL/ESL writing tests with knowledge of text characteristics generated from recent developments in text analysis.
Assessing Yearly Progress of Language Minority Students Using Standardized Testing.
Munoz, Marco A.
Publication Date: 2002
This study evaluated the impact of an urban school district's English-as-a-second-Language (ESL) program on 317 participating K–12 language minority students. The study used the Language Assessment Scale (LAS) to examine students' English proficiency after participating in the yearlong program. The LAS measures language skills necessary to succeed in an academic environment. It does not measure achievement in course content. Analysis of students' pretest and posttest scores on the LAS indicated that they made yearly progress in English language proficiency as evidenced by their oral, reading, and writing scores. The gains reached statistically significant levels using both chi-squares and dependent-sample t-tests. The results suggest that the program is successfully meeting the needs of language minority students.
How Teachers Assess ESL Reading: Implications for Change.
Gonzalez-Jensen, Margarita; Beckett, E. Carol
Publication Date: 2002
Development of reading skills for all second language learners is of utmost importance for success in all academic areas. Reading skills assessment must guide instructional planning for English language learners. This manuscript examines the reading assessment practices used by 50 inservice K–8 elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers in a large metropolitan area in the southwest United States. The findings indicated that many teachers did not differentiate between formal and informal assessment practices in their classrooms, did not regularly assess the English language learners' (ELLs') reading growth, and did not differentiate reading assessment practices for fluent English speakers and ELLs. Conclusions from this study include the need for effective preservice and inservice opportunities to increase awareness of the effectiveness of reading assessment in planning instruction. Colleges of education need to consider ways to improve ESL teachers' basic conceptual understanding of assessment and provide them opportunities to refine practices of administering the appropriate reading assessments.
English as a Second Language Report Two--ESL Cohort Analysis.
Maack, Stephen C.
Publication Date: February 01, 2002
This paper discusses cohorts of Rio Hondo College (California) fall term students who completed the English/English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) assessment test under the ESL scoring rubric between fall 1996 and spring 2001, and considers the relationships of assessment testing, enrollment, and course success. Report highlights include: (1) the proportion of potential Rio Hondo ESL students assessed into lower-level ESL courses increased, and the proportion assessed into higher-level ESL courses decreased, during five of the last six fall term placement cycles; (2) overall success rates in the first credit/no-credit or graded ESL or English courses that the students took were 62% for fall 1996, 60% for fall 1997, 73% for fall 1998, 71% for fall 1999, and 79% for fall 2000 cohorts; (3) in only two cohort years (fall 1997 and fall 1998) were students statistically more likely to succeed than not if they took the ESL or English course recommended by the assessment test; (4) many students may be attempting too few ESL courses to reach the beginning college English level (ENGL 101); and (5) the problem is not so much succeeding in ENGL 101 but reaching the point of attempting the class-getting there is the bigger problem, especially for students placed below ESL 197. This report details success rates in specific ESL and English courses, and discusses implications for student success in the future. Contains numerous charts and statistics.
REEP Alternative Assessment Project (353 Special Project) Final Report, July 1, 1994-June 30, 1995.
Author Affiliation: Arlington County Public Schools, VA. REEP, Arlington Education and Employment Program.(BBB28229)
Publication Date: 1996
The REEP (Arlington Education and Employment Program) 2-year special project, which set out to research, develop, field-test, and establish recommendations for alternative assessment methods for the language and literacy development of adult learners of English as a Second Language (ESL), is described and evaluated. Goals and needs of 117 adult students were determined, and plans for assessing their progress were developed. Benchmarks were created by identifying skills, behaviors, and attitudes indicating progress in cognitive, linguistics, and non-linguistic domains. Assessment processes and tools were field-tested and refined during the project's first year, then were adapted to multiple settings (workplace, drop-in center) in the second year. The project also determined the feasibility of aggregating data from alternative assessments for reporting purposes, developed a process and guidelines for and alternative assessment system in a variety of settings, and served as a demonstration site for teachers. It was found that the alternative assessment process itself was helpful for teacher development, and while alternative assessment is time-consuming, it enables teachers to substantiate promotion and retention decisions. Recommendations include further exploration of ways to streamline data collection, analysis, and reporting, and adoption of ESL proficiency standards for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Assessment with Adult English Language Learners.
National Center for ESL Literacy Education, Washington, DC.(BBB36588)
Publication Date: January 2002
The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act requires states to report learners' educational gains in terms of level descriptors defined by the National Reporting System (NRS). States may choose their assessment methods. Most use standardized testing. NRS level descriptors for English as a Second Language (ESL) define English language proficiency across six levels. The time required to show level gain in proficiency depends on program factors (e.g., class intensity and adequacy of facilities) and learner factors (e.g., age and educational background). Adult ESL standardized tests are easy to administer, valid, and reliable, though they may not capture incremental learning changes over short periods of time. Performance assessment in adult ESL reflects current beliefs that learners acquire language as they use it in social interactions to accomplish purposeful tasks. However, performance assessment for accountability purposes is limited. For both standardized and performance assessments, applying several principles will produce effective assessment procedures (e.g., select assessment instruments and procedures that match learning goals and know assessment limitations). Many critical issues must be examined before putting these principles into practice (e.g., conditions under which measurable gain can be achieved and resources needed to ensure consistent, reliable standardized assessment).
Choosing EFL/ESL Visual Assessments: Image and Picture Selection on Foreign and Second Language Exams.
Publication Date: 2001
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the avenues for choosing pictures and visual images in testing situations for foreign and second language examinations. The paper demonstrates how quantitative and qualitative research from cognitive psychology, visual and verbal behavior studies, as well as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) have contributed to the understanding of how visual images affect background schemata, learning, and testing. It is essential that test writers investigate how visuals and images can aid or hinder the assessment of language learning. It is hoped that this research will help the classroom practitioner, the materials developer, and most importantly the test writer/designer to choose, use, create, design and implement pictures into testing procedures, which are fair to the student population and offer a more accurate measure of a learner's ability to manipulate and communicate in the target language. It is concluded that a learner's sensitivity to language and the ability to create relations amongst words can be further enhanced by the use of visuals.
The full text of most materials in the ERIC database with an "ED" followed by six digits is available through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) in microfiche, online, or in paper copy. Approximately 80% of ERIC documents from 1993 to the present are available for online ordering and electronic delivery through the EDRS Web site. You can read ERIC documents on microfiche for free at many libraries with monthly subscriptions or specialized collections. To find an ERIC center near you, contact our User Services staff.
The full text of journal articles may be available from one or more of the following sources:
To obtain journals that do not permit reprints and are not available from your library, write directly to the publisher. Addresses of publishers are listed in the front of each issue of Current Index to Journals in Education and can now be accessed online through the CIJE Source Journal Index.
If you would like additional information about this or any topic related to language education or linguistics, contact our User Services Staff.
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