10. Are there instructional materials and assessment strategies for use in the content areas that take into account different stages of language learning?

Many published ESL and Spanish as a second language materials are leveled for different stages of language learning. Programs that have an actual second language instructional period for each native language group (delivered in linguistically segregated groups) might use commercially available, multi leveled language development materials designed for second language instruction.

When language majority and language minority students are learning together (a grouping arrangement that should be occurring most of the time in a TWI program), access to leveled books is critical. Teachers can assess their learners’ language and literacy levels and then supply them with materials at their instructional levels. Many leveling systems are now in use. These include ATOS (Accelerated Reader), Lexile (Reading Counts!), Guided Reading/Fountas & Pinnell, and Early Intervention (Reading Recovery). (For a description of these systems, go to http://www.capstonepress.com/aspx/pLeveling.aspx.) Leveled books allow students at different levels to learn the same content as other students with materials they can use independently (see Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000, Appendix B, for a listing of publishers of commercial materials).

When assessing the content knowledge of learners with varying language proficiency levels, it is important to link assessments to instructional objectives and teaching activities. Good assessment in two-way immersion is designed to optimize student performance; it is developmentally appropriate; and it is authentic, ongoing, and carefully planned. Assessment should also be based on performance criteria that are clearly defined and communicated to students (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000, p. 141). Stratified checklists and rubrics that set up different expected behaviors for students at different proficiency levels are helpful. For examples of such assessments, see O’Malley & Valdez-Pierce (1996, chap. 7). For further information on assessment as it pertains to TWI programs and sample assessment tools, see Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000 (chap. 7).

Some additional useful resources on assessment with second language learners are as follows: