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ERIC Number: ED477566
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Mar
Pages: 7
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
TESOL Position Paper on High-Stakes Testing for K-12 English Language Learners in the United States of America.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., Alexandria, VA.
High stakes assessments cannot reliably provide an accurate assessment of English language learners' (ELLs)' abilities in content areas. Cultural differences and limitations concerning opportunity to learn can lead to unfair interpretations of low test scores and assessment discrimination. ELLs cannot demonstrate content mastery without having already attained a high degree of English fluency. While most states allow ELLs certain accommodations during testing, application of these accommodations is limited. Accommodations cannot be applied to groups of ELLs without careful consideration of each student's ability to make use of them. Some states offer ELLs a grace period before taking standardized state tests, though research maintains that ELLs need 5-7 years of assisted English instruction before being ready for the decontextualized academic English needed to pass most tests. For many ELLs, the tests contradict their own academic traditions and expectations and contain culturally dependent, unfamiliar references. While all children are entitled to an equal opportunity to achieve, many court cases involving ELLs center on lack of opportunity to learn. Alternatives to high stakes testing include multiple assessments of content area skills that are not dependent on linguistic capability and comprise visuals and demonstrations of knowledge. Research indicates that when given a chance to develop academic English, child ELLs can be more successful than their native-English-speaking peers. (SM)
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., 700 South Washington Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314. Tel: 703-836-0774; Fax: 703-836-7864; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., Alexandria, VA.