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Recommendations for Literacy Assessment Practices for ALL Teachers of ELLS That Will Inform Instruction. Why is Assessment Important?. Assessment is a critical part of effective literacy development; therefore, it is important for classroom teachers to know how to evaluate ELL’s progress.

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Recommendations for Literacy Assessment Practices for ALL Teachers of ELLS That Will Inform Instruction

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Recommendations for Literacy Assessment Practices for ALL Teachers of ELLS That Will Inform Instruction

why is assessment important
Why is Assessment Important?
  • Assessment is a critical part of effective literacy development; therefore, it is important for classroom teachers to know how to evaluate ELL’s progress.
  • The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 established assessment mandates that all teachers must follow and because ELLs are included in the testing and must make Adequate Yearly Progress, quality assessment will help determine student needs.
why is assessment important continued
Why is Assessment Important? (continued)
  • NCLB legislation also drives state standards. Similar to assessing monolingual learners, teachers must document evidence of student learning and progress in accordance to those standards.
  • Assessment of ELLS, however, is more critical and challenging given the wide range of educational experiences and academic backgrounds they bring to a school.
why is assessment important continued4
Why is Assessment Important? (continued)
  • Good assessment practices pave the way to making instructional and evaluative decisions.
  • Teachers need to consider all these educational requirements.
  • Whether ELLS are newcomers to the United States or from Generations of heritage language speakers, they are disadvantaged if assessment, evaluation, and the curriculum do not make allowances for their distinctive differences (Gay, 2001; Gitlin, Buendia, Crossland, & Doumbia, 2003).
who is responsible for assessing students
Who is Responsible for Assessing Students?
  • Assessment practices pave the way to making
  • instructional decisions and evaluating.
  • Consider all educational stakeholders when planning
  • assessment of ELLs:
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Students themselves
    • Parents
    • Administrators
    • Other teachers
  • Consider state standards or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Standards PreK–12 English Language Proficiency Standards
questions teachers need to ask when assessing esl students
Questions Teachers Need to Ask When Assessing ESL Students
  • Who am I going to assess?
  • How am I going to assess the students?
  • Whyam I going to assess?
  • What specifics aspects of literacy am I going to assess?
  • When am I going to assess?
  • Where am I going to assess?
how can teachers better understand the background of their ell students
How Can Teachers Better Understand the Background of Their ELL Students?

English Language Learners come to our public schools with vastly different backgrounds. They fall into four categories:

1. Newly arrived students with adequate formal schooling;

2. Newly arrived students with limited formal schooling;

3. Students exposed to two languages simultaneously;

4. Long term English-language learners.

1 newly arrived with adequate formal schooling
1. Newly arrived with adequate formal schooling
  • Have parents who are educated speakers on their L1
  • Developed a strong foundation in their L1
  • Demonstrate the potential to make fast progress in English
  • Have found it easy to acquire a second or third language.
  • Have been in the country for > 5 years.
  • Have had an adequate degree of schooling in their native country.
  • Perform in reading and writing at grade level.
  • Find it relatively easy to catch up with their native-English-speaking peers.
  • Have difficulty with standardized tests.
2 newly arrived students with limited formal schooling
2. Newly arrived students with limited formal schooling
  • May not have had previous schooling.
  • May experience feeling of loss of emotional and social networks.
  • Have parents who have low literacy levels and could have difficulty learning English.
  • Have recently arrived in an English-speaking school.
  • Have experienced interrupted schooling.
  • Have limited native- language and literacy skills.
  • Perform poorly on achievement tasks.
3 students exposed to two languages simultaneously
3. Students exposed to two languages simultaneously
  • May have not developed academic literacy in either L1 or L2.
  • Often engage in extensive code-switching.
  • Have acquired oral proficiency in a language other than English first but may not have learned to read or write in that language.
  • Were born in the US but have grown up in households where a language other than English is spoken.
  • Live in communities of speakers who primarily communicate in their L1 or go back and forth between languages.
  • Have grown up being exposed to 2 languages simultaneously.
4 long term english language learners
4. Long-term English-language learners
  • Have had some English as a second language classes or bilingual support.
  • Require substantial and ongoing language and literacy support.
  • Have already spent more than 5 years in an English-speaking school.
  • Have literacy skills that are below grade level.
reasons for assessing ells
Reasons for Assessing ELLs
  • Purposes for assessment can be diverse.
  • For student placement
  • To make instructional decisions
  • For program development & evaluation

It is critical that teachers identify the purpose for assessing before choosing the assessment instrument to be used.

  • Does the assessment connectto the language & content standards?
  • Is the assessment consistent with the teacher's instructional objectives & goals?

Teachers can use the language & content standards as the basis for what ELLs ought to know, which in turn can provide the purposes for assessment.

using authentic r eading m aterials when assessing
Using authentic reading materials when assessing

Literacy in English, for ELLs, can be an extension of their identity both in school and at home.

  • Using authentic reading materialsthat connect to the students' real-life experiences affects ELLs in numerous and complex cultural, social and personal ways;
  • Assessments should also be adjusted to the students English proficiency level—if it is not comprehensible it will only measure the vocabulary that a students does not know.
  • Assessments results are more useful when using purposeful communication and authentic material.

What is a Predictability Log?Why Will the Use of Predictability Logs Help Teachers Better Understand the Types of Literacies ELLs Bring to the Classroom?

  • A PL helps teachers better understand their students’ prior literacy experiences and the factors that helped shape them.
  • Teachers should target questions that are most relevant for the students’ situations.
  • Data can come from interviewing students and their parents, observing in a classroom setting, and talking with others who know the student.
what are the predictability log categories
What are the Predictability Log Categories?

Predictability Log Categories to Better Help Teachers Understand their Students’ Literacy Background

  • Language Use
  • Knowledge
  • Events or experiences that matter to the student
  • Narrative
  • Relationship
  • Aesthetics and ethics
predictability log components
Predictability Log Components

Language Use

  • What language does the student know and use?
  • What types of alphabets does the student know?
  • What language and literacy experiences interest the students?
predictability log components17
Predictability Log Components


  • What is the student’s cultural background?
  • What does the student enjoy doing out of school?
  • In what areas or ways has the student helped classmates?
  • What has the student said or what stories has the student told?
predictability log components18
Predictability Log Components

Events or experiences that

matter to the student

  • What has happened to the student recently that has been important?
  • Have any major events occurred, especially recently, that have been of great interest to the student?
predictability log components19
Predictability Log Components


  • What kinds of stories does the student enjoy?
  • What specific stories does the student know well?
  • Can the student tell a story about a relative or a good friend?
  • What activities is the student involved in?
predictability log components20
Predictability Log Components


  • What is the student’s family situation and who are the key members in their life?
  • Has the student left anyone behind in his/her home country?
  • Who are the student’s best friends and is there anyone whom he/she talks about often?
  • Whom might you contact to follow up on one of the student’s interests or needs?
predictability log components21
Predictability Log Components

Aesthetics and ethics

  • What personal belongings does the student bring to class or wear?
  • What objects or ideas appeal to the student?
  • What values has the student expressed through actions or stories?
why are multi dimensional assessments important for your ell students

Why are Multi-dimensional Assessments Important for your ELL students?

To fairly assess the placement and progress of ELL students and to plan instruction, it is essential to conduct a multidimensional approach of evaluation using a variety of authentic assessment tools, such as:

anecdotal records


rating scales




  • Identify and provide knowledge of a student’s literacy development.
  • Fairly and appropriately highlight students’ progress and accomplishments.
  • Drive instructional modifications which ensure student success.
guiding principles for assessing esl students hurley and blake 2000
Guiding Principles for Assessing ESL Students Hurley and Blake (2000)
  • Assessment activities should:
    • Help teachers make instructional decisions.
    • Help teachers find out what students know how to do …not what they cannot do.
    • Grow out of authentic learning activities.
    • Have a specific objective-linked purpose.
  • The holistic context for learning should be considered and assessed.
  • Best assessments of student learning are longitudinal…they take place over time.
recommended suggestions for alternative assessment practices
Recommended Suggestions for Alternative Assessment Practices
  • Learn what constitutes alternative or authentic assessment of ELLs.
  • Develop a philosophy of second-language acquisition that will assist you in the evaluation of ELLs.
  • Know your district’s curriculum of the program before planning assessments.
  • Implement the assessments once you have understood the features of the tools available and have determined the appropriateness of implementation at any given time.
recommended suggestions for alternative assessment practices continued
Recommended Suggestions for Alternative Assessment Practices (continued)
  • Plan assessments that yield data that can be used for evaluative and instructional purposes.
  • Ensure that students understand how to use self-assessments.
  • Use the results of your assessments to modify instruction.
  • Communicate assessment results to the respective stakeholders in clear and meaningful ways.
why assess ell s tudents in non traditional ways what are some examples
Why Assess ELL students in non-traditional ways? What are some examples?

Teachers should provide ELLs with opportunities to demonstrate knowledge in nontraditional ways. These tools will provide direct insights on the students’ literacy development and showcase students’ progress and accomplishments.

Some ways to consider:

  • Performance assessment tasks
  • Organizers
    • Venn diagrams, charts, drawings, mind maps, PPT slides
assessing ell students in non traditional ways continued
Assessing ELL students in non-traditional ways (Continued)
  • Assess language learning in in participation activities
    • Provide oral assessment opportunities
    • Give credit for oral participation
  • Reading strategies
    • Help develop reading strategies that could be counted as an alternate form of assessment (Lenski, Daniel, Ehlers-Zavala, & Alvayero, 2004).
  • Language Experience Approach
    • As students read their language-experience stories, informally assess their oral reading fluency (Lenski & Nierstheimer, 2004).
teacher made tests can be modified standardized test should not be modified
Teacher made tests can be modified.

Standardized test should not be modified.

modifications appropriate for newcomers
Modifications Appropriate for Newcomers
  • Students answer orally rather than in writing.
  • A qualified bilingual professional can assist with assessment.
  • Allow ELL to demonstrate reading progress and growth through group assessments.
  • Allow responses in multiple formats – such as: discussions, diagrams, drawings, or pointing to pictures or objects of correct answer.
modifications appropriate for newcomers continued
Modifications Appropriate for Newcomers (continued)
  • Allow students to answer in native language if translation support systems exist.
  • Permit student to use a bilingual (word to word) dictionary during testing.
modifications for developing ell students
Modifications for Developing ELL Students
  • Student answers orally, paraprofessional or teacher records student’s answers.
  • Divide into small chunks.
  • Use visuals.
  • Add glossaries in English or first language.
  • Simplify vocabulary.
  • Start the assessment with an example.
  • Write questions in the affirmative rather than the negative.
using ell students native languages as an assessment resource
Using ELL Students’ Native Languages as an Assessment Resource
  • ELL students should be permitted to use their native language abilities to complete literacy tasks.
  • They need to be able to express their knowledge in the language they are most familiar with when being assessed.
  • By allowing ELLs to use their native language to process their answers during assessment, their knowledge would be more accurate.

ELLs who engage in self-assessment practice learn how their past learning is helping in developing their new learning.

  • Teachers need to be aware that ELLs may experience difficulties in the beginning when attempting self-assessments.
  • ELLs need to be provided with support through substantial scaffolding activities.

Responses should be modeled to self-assessment tasks and provide students with group, peer, and finally independent practice.

  • A Connections Chart (Lenski & Ehlers-Zavala, 2004) is a strategy that could be used for student self-assessment.
  • In this strategy, students are to read a story; stop at given points; and make connections to other books, past learning, and themselves.


collaborative assessment
Collaborative Assessment
  • Collaborative assessment allows students to collaborate with other students. Collaboration sometimes helps ELLs to feel safe.
  • Collaborative assessment allows students to code-switch, which is moving between the native language and English.

Note: Code-switching is a natural occurrence that helps ELLs to stress a point or express a concept.

effective teaching effective assessments
Effective Teaching = Effective Assessments
  • The literacy experiences that students have in learning their first
  • language greatly impacts their ability to acquire literacy in the English
  • language.
  • Most effective types of assessments that help teachers make instructional
  • decisions for ELLs are:
      • Authentic performance-based assessments:
      • Observations
      • Journals
      • Portfolios
      • Self-assessments
collaborative assessment and the community
Collaborative Assessment and the Community
  • It is important that teachers invite family and community members to come into the classroom to partake in literacy projects.
  • Parents can help bridge language barriers and offer insight regarding their child’s abilities and background knowledge.
  • Both teachers and parents can seek assistance from community resource centers.
effective teaching effective assessments39
Effective Teaching = Effective Assessments
  • Effective teaching is the key to sustained achievement of all students, especially the ELL students who struggle with reading.
  • Without a complete understanding of the ELL students’ backgrounds and current literacy levels, teachers will have difficulty providing effective instruction to meet the needs of ELL students.
  • Only when measurement of literacy, assessment, evaluation, and excellent teaching are preset in classrooms will ELLs make real progress toward literacy.