ERIC Number: ED419001
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
English Language Learners and State Assessments.
Stansfield, Charles W.
All states are addressing the problems of accommodations for English Language Learners (ELL's) in state assessment systems, but Massachusetts is noteworthy for the way in which it handles this problem. Since the early 1980s, over 40 states have created a statewide assessment program. Testing in these states is typically modeled on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. ELL's, sometimes called limited English proficient students, have traditionally been exempted from state assessments and other standardized tests. Since no data on their achievement was available, reports often provided a skewed picture of how students in schools and districts were progressing. This policy, usually designed to protect ELL's from the unpleasantness of taking a test for which they were not prepared, has had a negative impact on educational equity for language minority students. As a result, there has been a move to incorporate ELL's into state assessments. States are beginning to modify assessment programs, usually through test accommodations that include extra time, clarifying directions, flexible scheduling, and the use of bilingual dictionaries and glossaries. Native language testing is useful when the student is literate in the native language. Massachusetts has translated all its tests, except Language Arts, to Spanish and uses specialized scoring involving pairs of bilingual and subject content teachers (consensus scoring) through a system developed by Second Language Testing, Inc. Issues related to students who are not literate in Spanish or English proficient are still in the process of resolution, but problems can be worked out with time and attention. Massachusetts plans to use its Grade 10 assessment as a graduation examination, and it is considering how to best accommodate ELL's for this examination. (Contains two references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Association of Bilingual Educators (Leominster, MA, March 4, 1998).