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Assessment & Evaluation

As the number of English language learners in U.S. classrooms has grown, many questions have arisen as to how assessment can best be used to support learning for this unique and diverse population. How can ELLs be included in large-scale, standardized testing in a way that is fair and consistent? What is the role of informal, classroom-based assessment in guiding instruction for students with limited English proficiency? The articles in this section explore these issues and more and provide useful information for both educators and parents. You might also want to see Assessment and Placement for more information.

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Differentiated Instruction for English Language Learners

What Is an IEP?

ELL Identification: Information for Administrators

Administrators play an important role in shaping the policies and procedures for identifying the language and academic needs of English language learners (ELLs). In this excerpt from Transforming Schools for English Learners: A Comprehensive Framework for School Leaders, Debbie Zacarian offers administrators an overview to ELL identification and placement best practices within the context of choosing the right program model for the population. Topics include information about home language surveys, test validity, and scheduling considerations.

How should ELLs be grouped for instruction?

Placing ELLs in the appropriate instruction group presents a number of challenges to teachers, administrators, and ELL curriculum directors. Factors such as age, language proficiency level, language groups, staff time, program models, and available resources for ELL students can affect these decisions in a variety of ways. Researchers Ester de Jong and Nancy L. Commins provide a quite a bit of helpful guidance about this topic in this excerpt from English Language Learners at School: A Guide for Administrators.

Response to Intervention in Reading for English Language Learners

This article briefly highlights the knowledge base on reading and RTI for ELLs, and provides preliminary support for the use of practices related to RTI with this population.

Asking the Right Questions

Assessment for Young ELLs: Strengths and Limitations in Current Practices

Testing: An Introduction for Parents

As a parent, there are many ways you can support your child's academic success, which will in turn help your child with test-taking throughout the school year. The following articles offer a number of suggestions of ways that you can help your child prepare for tests, and support your child's learning habits.

The Language Development of Younger Internationally Adopted Children

Writing a Winning Essay

As part of assessments and/or high school graduation requirements in many states, students must pass a writing test. For ELL students, the writing test often poses one of the biggest challenges in testing and in meeting graduation requirements. In this month's Bright Ideas article, we offer a strategy for overcoming those obstacles and writing a strong five-paragraph essay. The article outlines the process from start to finish, starting with helping students develop a deeper understanding of writing test requirements to planning, organizing, and editing the essay's final draft.

Determining Adequate Yearly Progress From Kindergarten through Grade 6 with Curriculum-Based Measurement

Use Curriculum-Based Measurement to make sure students are on track for academic success by charting their trajectory of improvement all the way through the school year. CBM calculates rate of improvement during the first month of school and determines how much a student will need to improve each month to reach benchmark goals.

Assessing Fluency

Assess the fluency skills in your ELL students by finding the right reading level, tracking reading rate, and paying attention to expression and comprehension.

Using Informal Assessments for English Language Learners

Informal assessments provide continual snapshots of student progress throughout the school year. By using informal assessments, teachers can target students' specific problem areas, adapt instruction, and intervene earlier rather than later.

Placing English Language Learners in a Program of Instruction

After gathering information on a student's level of English proficiency, educational background, and academic content knowledge, your next step is to come up with a plan for placing the student in an instructional program that meets his or her language and academic needs.

Identifying Language Proficiency for Program Placement

The purpose of assessment for program placement is to identify those English language learners (ELLs) who need special instructional services such as sheltered English, ESL, or bilingual education.

Using informal assessments for ELLs

Some Myths Regarding ELLs and Special Education

The Next Step: Assessment and the English Language Learner

A new battery of assessments, which are steeped in academic rather than conversational English, give a clearer picture of students' proficiency, and because the tests are aligned to state standards, they'll also help teachers tailor classroom instruction to each child's needs.

Screening, Diagnosing and Progress Monitoring for Fluency

Early and frequent screening can go a long way in preventing reading difficulties. Fluency norms for grades 1-8 are listed here, as well as details on how to find and fix problems to keep kids on track for reading success.

What's 'Normal,' What's Not: Acquiring English as a Second Language

How can you tell when a student has a language-learning disability and when he or she is merely in the normal process of acquiring a second language?

Beyond Conventional Testing to Ensure Academic Success for Students and Improve Accountability for Educators

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has upped the ante in determining accountability for school districts across the country. This article reveals ways to move beyond conventional testing methods to provide the best possible learning environment or students.

Seeking Help for a Struggling Reader: 8 Steps for Parents

What should you do if you think your child is having trouble with reading? Sometimes children just need more time, but sometimes they need extra help. Trust your instincts! You know your child best. If you think there's a problem, there probably is.

Parents' Guide to Standardized Testing

Standardized testing is one form of assessment used in schools. Find out about standardized tests, how and why schools use them, and how you can support your child in this article for parents.

Informal Reading Assessments: Examples

These sample charts explain how to assess students informally in the classroom. Most of the assessments here should be given one-on-one.

Bilingual Students With Disabilities Get Special Help

There are many children who are eligible for both special education and English as a Second Language instruction, but few models exist for how to serve these children well. Learn about a program in Clark County, Nevada in which dually trained teachers provide overlapping instruction to meet both these needs.

Your Child's Evaluation

Evaluation is used to identify the children who are eligible for special education and the type of help they need. Find out four steps in the evaluation process, from analyzing known information to developing a program.

English Language Learners and Reading Difficulties

English language learners are at risk for future reading difficulties for a number of reasons. Here are some factors all teachers of ELLs should know.

A Guide to Learning Disabilities for the ESL Classroom Practitioner

It is estimated that in the United States, 15% of the general population has a learning disability. It is possible that many of the ESL students whom we view as poor language learners are struggling because they too have a learning disability.