Assessment of English Language Learners

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Assessment of English Language Learners
Alisha C. Green
Grand Canyon University: ESL 533N Advanced Methodologies of Structured English Instruction December 12, 2012

Abstract
Assessments are a critical tool in monitoring the progress of English language learners at all grade levels. The main purpose of assessments is to ensure students are receiving quality teaching instruction in accordance to academic and content standards. Even though these tests are not the only resource used for testing students, they provide teachers with invaluable data to determine if the student is growing in certain academic areas. There are several types of assessment that can be used to measure a student’s progress. In this paper, various alternatives to assessments will be discussed that will enhance the ELLs English proficiency.

Assessment of English Language Learners
Many students that are born and raised in the United States are able to successfully understand the English language. Nevertheless, there are also students that do not speak English and it is not their primary language, therefore these students have to engage in instruction and assessments that will help them to acquire the English language. Helping students to acquire English can be a challenging task for teachers, but it has to be done in a way that is most effective. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 suggests that students be assessed in many subject areas regardless of their level of ability to speak and understand English. To ensure students are being taught content and academic standards, a great deal of responsibility has been placed in the hands of states and school districts to hold them responsible for the information students are learning. There have been assessments put into place to collect data on student achievement and how well they are acquiring English. Many tests may seem unfair, but one thing it does is help teachers grade their instructional practices and help them adjust accordingly.

The Elementary and Secondary School Act of 2001 made a requirement that all schools give an assessment to students that have limited English proficiency. In the state of Louisiana, The English Language Development Assessment (ELDA) is given to students to determine their level of English proficiency. This test measures the student’s learning abilities in several areas such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This test is given to students on a yearly basis which is usually in February and March. School districts use this test to provide quality teaching practices for English language learners and provide them with the necessary accommodations needed in an effort to be successful in acquiring English.

Many ask and wonder if these types of test benefit English language learners. If there are many benefits, they are not clearly seen. English language learners are required to take tests in which they are expected to do as well as their English speaking peers on both content and academic standards. This alone is a disadvantage to students. For example, if an English language learner moves to the United States from another non-English speaking country then the possibility of the student knowing as much as English speaking students are nearly impossible. Another disadvantage to English language learners taking the standardized test is that it is culturally biased. The ELDA contains material that students from another culture may not be familiar with. Because the test should not be culturally biased, tests should not include information that would confuse English language learners. One way to improve this issue is to have states and school districts come together and do a study on what cultures are most prevalent in the district and create a test that will fit the needs of these students.

Even though there are several disadvantages to the ELDA, one advantage for students is that testing sites are allowed to make...
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