CAL Presentation

Principles for Effective and Rigorous Classroom Assessment in Adult ESL

March 25 – May 25, 2021


Presented at: TESOL 2021 International Convention & English Language Expo
March 24 – 27, 2021

Adult education programs are facing a call for increased rigor in their curriculum, particularly following the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (2014). The purpose of this session is to examine what is meant by “rigor” in adult education and how educators can integrate these changes into assessments they use in their programs and classrooms.

The presenters will work to define “rigor” in the context of adult ESL education and provide the background of why it is both an important and challenging concept. The calls for greater rigor reflect the increased reading and critical thinking demands of the workplace and post-secondary education, not to mention the demands of contemporary American life. However, many students in adult ESL programs have limited literacy skills and have immediate life skill needs that ESL programs have traditionally attempted to teach their learners (Parrish, n.d.).

One force calling for increased rigor in adult ESL education is new English language levels. The presentation will begin with an activity in which participants will engage with the National Reporting System (NRS) Levels that were released in December 2017 and that will go into effect once a test is approved for use in measuring these levels (US Department of Education, 2017). They will also have the opportunity to discuss how they can implement this understanding into their lessons and formative assessments.

The presenters will discuss best practices and challenges in reading and writing English language assessment for adult learners through the use of scenarios, sample tasks, and participant discussion. Participants will also discuss ways to introduce rigorous language strategies and critical thinking into topics and texts appropriate for students with limited education at the beginning levels of English proficiency. They will discuss how participants can apply these takeaways in formative assessments in their own classrooms.