ELL Assessment Process
The English Language Learner (ELL) assessment process is different in each state. Each state must assess student’s performance in reading or language arts in order to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In addition NCLB requires that schools receiving Title III funds annually assess the English Proficiency of all Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students participating in Title III programs. Although the assessments may vary, the goals of the assessments are all the same, to assess where students are as they learn the English language. Is this assessment enough or should alternative assessments be required?
In our area of New York State, which is known as the Southern Tier, there are very few ELL students. Compared to other areas of our country the schools in this area are small and the economy does not offer much to draw people to the area, therefore we have very few newcomers to the area. The school in my district, Hinsdale Central School, has 450 students pre-k through 12th grade, and currently has 1 ELL student enrolled. This is the first ever ELL student at this school, and as such has caused the school to look at how they will handle these students.
The assessment process begins at the school in several ways. Usually at the time of enrollment it is noted that the child is an English language learner. If in some way this is not caught at enrollment, the general educator can usually spot this right away. The first step in the process is to assess the student to see where the student’s performance level is at. There are four performance levels where students can be placed. These performance levels are beginning, intermediate, advanced, or proficient. The performance level will indicate the amount of intervention the student will get.
In New York State, the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) is the only test that may be used to assess an ELL student’s performance in English. The test is designed by teachers and Pearsons, a test development company, and is designed to measure the proficiency of ELLs. The test assess four language modalities; listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It is done over five grade bands; K-1, 2-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-12 and is administered by trained staff members. The test is comprised of; multiple choice questions in listening, reading, and writing. A short written response and an extended written response for the writing area, and an oral response for the oral area, are also required. The oral, written portion of the test is graded by trained teachers, while the multiple choice portion is graded by Pearson.
The test is administered in the spring and the results provide students, teachers, and parents with an objective view of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. The listening and speaking scores are combined to obtain an overall scale score, as are the reading and writing scores. The overall performance is determined by the scores...