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PD for ELL Assessment
Transcript of PD for ELL Assessment
Strategies for Test Questions:
Get Feedback from Test Takers:
What grade would this student receive on her science test if the scorer took away points for each spelling or grammatical error?
Does she demonstrate an understanding of the
content being assessed?
Recap & Take Away
Teachers know that assessment is crucial for effective instruction
However, accurately assessing English learners' content knowledge across language barriers
can be a challenge.
Examples from Teacher-Made Assessments!
The next few frames will show you
how the question can be
ELL Test Taker Perspective Activity
The purpose of this training is:
1. To demonstrate the importance of effective content classroom assessment of English learners.
2. To explain the unique needs of English learners and their communities in assessment.
3. To provide clear tools and resources that teachers can use to create effective classroom assessments for these students.
To begin, we will address some common questions teachers and families ask about the assessment of English learners.
How can I know what my English learners SHOULD be able to do at their language proficiency level?
ESL teachers can help interpret students' performance on the WiDA language proficiency tests and other measures to identify what expectations are appropriate.
See the WiDA Can Do Descriptors for an at-a-glance resource to guide your expectations:
Why can some students demonstrate understanding verbally but perform poorly on written tests?
Many English learners (ELLs) master conversational oral English skills long before they are able to read and write academic English at the level of their peers - sometimes years before. If students are not able to show their content knowledge on written tests, there are actions you can take to help make your assessments more accessible to ELLs.
What do students and families need from classroom assessments?
Studies show that the acquisition of academic English often takes ELLs 4 to 7 years. Families cannot wait until students master academic English before they learn the content, or they will find their students years behind their peers.
Effective classroom assessment of ELLs provides an opportunity not only to improve instruction, but also to keep students and families "in the loop" about how students are mastering the content.
Many teachers recognize that standardized assessments often leave ELLs behind. All too often, these students and their families are unaware that they require additional support until these test results are sent home. Even then, language barriers can keep families from understanding when intervention is necessary.
One useful resource may be PEPs and PEP meetings, which provide an ongoing opportunity for dialogue between school and home. Parents are a resource for understanding and supporting ELLs.
Communication about classroom assessment is key.
Please help us by taking a moment
to evaluate this resource
Imagine that you are a young student who just moved to China. You do not understand Chinese very well, but you are good at math.
Would you pass this math test?
Are you able to show your math skills to the teacher? Is math the main skill tested?
What about now?
Instead of a blank answer space, the teacher incorporated "less than" symbols to help the language learner!
How about these multiplication problems from the original test?
Multiplication is still being tested, but because symbols and examples were added, the language learner can now showcase math knowledge!
So, what can teachers do to help minimize assessment bias of our English language learners?
Fairbairn, S. B., & Fox, J. (2009). Inclusive achievement testing for linguistically and culturally diverse test takers: Essential considerations for test developers and decision makers.
Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice
, 28(1), 10-24.
Rhodes, R. L., Ochoa, S. H., & Ortiz, S. O. (2005).
Assessing culturally and linguistically diverse students: A practical guide
. Guilford Press.
Sireci, S. G., Han, K. T., & Wells, C. S. (2008). Methods for evaluating the validity of test scores for English language learners.
t, 13(2-3), 108-131.
Solano-Flores, G., & Trumbull, E. (2003). Examining language in context: The need for new research and practices paradigms in the testing of English-language learners.
, 32(2), 3–13.
Self-assessments (about strategies used, etc.)
If ELLs do particularly poorly on a test or test item, take the time to ask about their process for next time
Provide appropriate accommodations
Evaluate if resources are needed:
linguistically modified test items
use of dictionaries (standard or simplified with images for children)
Note that many accommodations commonly given to ELLs may be appropriate to extend to all students so that ELLs do not have an unfair advantage.
Question from SAT prep class teacher:
Choose the best answer to match this analogy:
Strawberry :: Red as ______________________
A) Eggplant :: Green
B) Lemon :: Yellow
C) Cantaloupe :: Blue
D) Banana :: Red
How can this question be changed to remove bias?
The word: lemon is a false cognate for the word: limone in some dialects, which is a
Students may not know what these fruits are, and therefore would not know their color.
Rather than test analogy skills, the question is testing knowledge of fruits and colors.
Sam and Alex are playing a game in which they both start out with 200 points. After each turn, Sam gets 300 points and Alex's points double. At the start of which turn does she have more points?
1. The gender of the two individuals in unclear, but required in the answer.
2. The challenging phrasing, "At the start of which turn," is not testing their math ability, but the student's reading ability.
Reinsert the names so students have a clear understanding of who the question is about. Use clear, simple language so that the math content knowledge is not obscured by language barriers.
Science test question:
"What body systems would be involved in eating pizza?"
Writing in the content area
Writing in the content area should be scored based on the content goals being taught. While constructive feedback and other support may be given, evaluating content assessments based on
criteria renders the results less useful for assessing English learners' understanding of the content.
Lab report format
English classes where specific constructions have been explicitly taught
Exceptions are cases where aspects of language mastery are a necessary part of content mastery, for example:
Formal or published writing when students have received sufficient support and time for revision
Scoring Writing in the Content Area
WiDA Can-Do Descriptors
Helps identify appropriate expectations for students' English proficiency levels
Instructional Planning Checklist
Quick ideas to connect planning & assessment of English learners
Check for Identifying Bias in Assessments
More detailed checklist for identifying bias in assessments
Know what you are assessing
Ask yourself, "Does this question test the intended content?"
Be aware of language accessibility
Use short, simple sentences and stems
Use consistent structure
Use present tense and active voice
Minimize rephrasing or rewording
Use pronouns carefully
Use high-frequency words
Identify and modify difficult non-content vocabulary
Use cognates & avoid false cognates
Avoid negative phrasing (Ex: "Choose the item that does not...")
Provide other supports for comprehension
Images, charts, graphs & symbols
Use visuals that mirror the text
Provide models and examples of student work
Highlight, use bold, and underline!
Avoid generalizations about groups of people
Review assessment plans for assumptions about what is “normal” or “typical” knowledge or behavior
Be aware of cultural bias
How could we make this question more accessible to English learners?
Why does it matter if my classroom assessments are effectively differentiated for my English learners, if the standardized tests that measure their learning are not?
The best way to prepare students for content area tests is to ensure that they know the content. Strong content instruction requires effective classroom methods for assessing students' knowledge. This process also creates an additional measure that can provide evidence of students' mastery of the content in ways standardized tests cannot.
Teachers can also help ELLs prepare for testing situations by explicitly teaching strategies and high-frequency testing vocabulary.
Be sure that your assessments and scoring reflect the content knowledge and skills being tested.
Printable copy of ideas and concepts:
The question might be inaccessible to students who know the math, but can't break through the complex language: