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Academic Language Assessment Emily Phillips-Galloway. Team Leader: Paola Uccelli Team Coordinator: Emily Phillips-Galloway Team Members : Alejandra Meneses, Ph. D. (postdoc) Emilio Sánchez, Ph. D. (visiting scholar) Chris Barr, Ph. D. (psychometrician)

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Summer Institute August, 2011


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    1. Academic Language Assessment Emily Phillips-Galloway Team Leader: Paola Uccelli Team Coordinator: Emily Phillips-Galloway Team Members: Alejandra Meneses, Ph. D. (postdoc) Emilio Sánchez, Ph. D. (visiting scholar) Chris Barr, Ph. D. (psychometrician) Christina Dobbs, Ed. D. candidate (RA) • Summer Institute • August, 2011

    2. Outline • Why is academic language important? • How do we define academic language? • The Academic Language Assessment (ALA) • Design and dimensions • Administration and Sample items • ALA & Common Core Standards • Relevance of results • Questions?

    3. Intervention and outcomes Intervention Outcomes Teacher Knowledge & Capacity Academic Language Complex Reasoning Deep Reading Comprehension Purposeful Reading/ Expository Writing Engaging Topics & Materials Structured Discussion Perspective Taking CCDD Theory of Change, Adapted from Grant, Figure 2.

    4. Why is academic language important?

    5. THE GAP BETWEEN READING WORDS & COMPREHENDING TEXT (LESAUX ET AL., 2010) Lesaux, Crosson, Kieffer & Pierce, 2010

    6. Academic Language or the language of school required for academic success in challenging literacy tasks, such as reading textbooks or writing school-valued genres across content areas (Snow & Uccelli, 2009) different from everyday language: many students who are highly successful in communicating in informal contexts may struggle at school (Halliday, 2004) special challenge: learning language forms valued in school is a challenge for all students, but it is especially challenging for those with minimal exposure to and use of such language outside of school (Schleppegrell, 2001, 2004)

    7. AL: Definition “knowing and being able to use general and content-specific vocabulary, specialized or complex grammatical structures, and multifarious language functions and discourse structures—all for the purpose of acquiring new knowledge and skills, interacting about a topic, or imparting information to others” (Bailey, 2007) AL across domains (Bailey & Butler, 2003:6) “language can be more or less academic –that is furnished with fewer or more of the traits that are typical of academic language; we have no basis for postulating a separate category of language that has passed some threshold qualifying it as academic” (Snow & Uccelli, 2009: 114-115)

    8. Academic language: History textbook (10th grade) Autonomous text with authoritative, detached stance Words that link ideas explicitly (connectives) Words that link the same participants (reference chains) Complex information (complex words) Densely packed information (complex syntax) Although a war had begun, the American colonists still debated their attachment to Great Britain. A growing number, however, favored independence. They heard the persuasive arguments of colonial leaders such as Patrick Henry, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. These leaders used Enlightenment ideas to justify independence. The colonists had asked for the same political rights as people in Britain, they said, but the king had stubbornly refused. Therefore, the colonists were justified in rebelling against a tyrant[who had broken the social contract.] Example from Schleppegrell (2007), TNEELD

    9. How will we assess academic language proficiency?: The academic language assessment (ALA) • Purpose of the ALA a. To understand the development of academic language during the middle school years b. To explore academic language as predictor of deep comprehension - a crucial dimension of the intervention • Administration of the ALA Group-administered test Pre and post intervention (control & treatment group)

    10. The Common Core Standards and ALA

    11. Assessing Dimension 1: Academic Language Register Awareness How will we assess this dimension? What are we assessing? 1. knowledge of how formal and informal language registers differ and when each is appropriate 2. ability to discern author's/speaker's stance (detached, authoritative) Think: Which definition of ‘clown’ was written for adults?

    12. Assessing Dimension 1: Academic Language Register Awareness How will we assess this dimension? What are we assessing? 1. knowledge of how formal and informal language registers differ and when each is appropriate 2. ability to discern author's/speaker's stance (detached, authoritative) X X X X

    13. Assessing Dimension 2: Knowledge of School Genres & Discourse Structures What are we assessing? 1. ability to draw on knowledge of how texts (and text types) are constructed globally (i.e., whole text). Another reason is that uniforms make students all equal because no one has more expensive clothes. In conclusion, wearing uniforms in school is better because it solves many problems. Finally, uniforms cost less, so families will spend less money. This task assesses students’ knowledge of how whole texts, specifically argumentative texts, are constructed (global discourse structure awareness) I think students should wear uniforms to school. One reason is that with uniforms, students will pay less attention to clothes and more attention to learning. What ‘clues’ would you use to help you to order this paragraph? For example, a student at a school with uniforms said, “everyone pays attention to the teacher. Nobody thinks about clothes because we all look the same.”

    14. Assessing Dimension 2: Knowledge of School Genres & Discourse Structures What are we assessing? 1. ability to draw on knowledge of how texts (and text types) are constructed globally (i.e., whole text). 4 Another reason is that uniforms make students all equal because no one has more expensive clothes. 6 In conclusion, wearing uniforms in school is better because it solves many problems. 5 Finally, uniforms cost less, so families will spend less money. This task assesses students’ knowledge of how whole texts, specifically argumentative texts, are constructed (global discourse structure awareness) 1 I think students should wear uniforms to school. 2 One reason is that with uniforms, students will pay less attention to clothes and more attention to learning. 3 What ‘clues’ would you use to help you to order this paragraph? For example, a student at a school with uniforms said, “everyone pays attention to the teacher. Nobody thinks about clothes because we all look the same.”

    15. Assessing Dimension 2: Knowledge of School Genres & Discourse Structures What are we assessing? 1. ability to draw on knowledge of how texts (and text types) are constructed locally (i.e., paragraph-level). This task assesses students’ knowledge of how argumentative and expository texts are constructed at the paragraph level (local discourse structure awareness). Different Towns: Springfield & Portcity People in Springfield and Portcity live very different lives. Springfield is a small town and most people know each other. However, Portcity is a large and very crowded city. Besides, in Springfield people tend to have big houses with large gardens full of flowers and trees. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

    16. Assessing Dimension 2: Knowledge of School Genres & Discourse Structures What are we assessing? 1. ability to draw on knowledge of how texts (and text types) are constructed locally (i.e., paragraph-level). This task assesses students’ knowledge of how argumentative and expository texts are constructed at the paragraph level (local discourse structure awareness). Different Towns: Springfield & Portcity People in Springfield and Portcity live very different lives. Springfield is a small town and most people know each other. However, Portcity is a large and very crowded city. Besides, in Springfield people tend to have big houses with large gardens full of flowers and trees. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________. In contrast, in Portcity people live in small homes or apartments and rarely have a garden.

    17. Assessing Dimension 3: Knowledge of Words that Link Participants or Ideas in Discourse What are we assessing? knowledge of how to connect persons referenced in texts to nouns or pronoun (e.g., she – Mary) This task assesses students’ knowledge of how to track persons or ideas mentioned in texts across/ within sentences (this is called anaphora resolution).

    18. Assessing Dimension 3: Knowledge of Words that Link Participants or Ideas in Discourse What are we assessing? knowledge of how to connect persons referenced in texts to nouns or pronoun (e.g., she – Mary) This task assesses students’ knowledge of how to track persons or ideas mentioned in texts across/ within sentences (this is called anaphora resolution).

    19. Assessing Dimension 3: Knowledge of Words that Link Participants or Ideas in Discourse What are we assessing? 2. knowledge of how general AL words (e.g., therefore, however ) connect ideas. These tasks assesses students’ knowledge of words that connect ideas in academic texts (‘connectives’).

    20. Assessing Dimension 4: Information Packing & Unpacking Skills What are we assessing? 1. Ability to read/write complex words (morphology) and complex sentences (syntax) which convey multiple ideas concisely. 1. activity. The children are very ___________________________________. 2. ethnicity. The city has many ________________________________ groups. This task assesses students’ understanding of the construction of complex words structures that support concise writing and reading. Choose the picture that represents the sentence: “The book on the scarf is blue” This task evaluates students’ abilities to comprehend syntax. (Kieffer’s Decomposition task; TROG-2 item)

    21. Assessing Dimension 4: Information Packing & Unpacking Skills What are we assessing? 1. Ability to read/write complex words (morphology) and complex sentences (syntax) which convey multiple ideas concisely. 1. activity. The children are very ___________________________________. 2. ethnicity. The city has many ________________________________ groups. active This task assesses students’ understanding of the construction of complex words structures that support concise writing and reading. ethnic Choose the picture that represents the sentence: “The book on the scarf is blue” This task evaluates students’ abilities to comprehend syntax. (Kieffer’s Decomposition task; TROG-2 item)

    22. A Task to Assess Multiple Dimensions Simultaniously: The Definition Production Task “Animal with silky fur on it black brown or white with four legs. You can ride on it. It lives on a farm. It’s used to go places.” –prototypical grade 4 student “A four-legged farm animal that can be ridden for transportation” -prototypical grade 8 student

    23. Are students’ scores on the AL Assessment relevant for school performance? Yes…. Figure 1: Academic Language Results by grade and MCAS_ELA

    24. Your questions?

    25. Bailey, A. & Butler, F. (2003). An Evidentiary Framework for Operationalizing Academic Language for Broad Application to K-12 Education: A Design Document CSE Report 611. CRESST/University of California, Los Angeles. • Bailey, A. (2007). The language demands of the school: Putting academic English to the test. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. • Halliday, M.A.K. (2003). The Language of Early Childhood, Vol. 4 in The Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday. J. Webster (ed.). London: Continuum. • Lesaux, N.K., Crosson, A., Kieffer, M.J., & Pierce, M. (2010). Uneven profiles: Language Minority learner’s word reading, vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 31, 475-483. • Schleppegrell, M. (2001). Linguistic features of the language of schooling. Linguistics and Education, 14 (4), 431-459. • Snow, C. E., & Uccelli, P. (2009). The Challenge of Academic Language. Olson, D. R., & N. Torrance (Eds.). The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy, pp. 112-133.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    26. Appendix

    27. AL Assessment Dimensions Mapped to Tasks

    28. A communicative model of Academic Language Representation of self & audience • Awareness of AL • formal vs. informal • stance (detached, authoritative) Representation of message • School genres • Argumentation • Exposition • Definition • Discourse Structure • Local structure • Global structure Organization of discourse • Linking ideas • Explicit relations (connectives) • Same participants (reference) • Packing dense information • Complex words (morphology) • Complex sentences (syntax) • Lexical precision (Snow & Uccelli, 2009)