Standardized Testing for ELLs

Discussion in 'ESL/ELL' started by RobinR, May 21, 2017.

  1. RobinR

    RobinR New Member

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    May 21, 2017

    Each state in the United States is required to assess all ELL students on a yearly basis. Only one assessment can be used, if more than one assessment is used to determine eligibility in a state, then that state will lose federal funding. I am an ELL teacher in Vermont and I am working on a master’s degree at Capella University. In Vermont we use the ACCESS test from WIDA.us on a yearly basis to determine if students are eligible for ELL services. I feel this assesses their language skills somewhat successfully, but is not always a good indicator of how successful they will be in a mainstream classroom. It has also been my experience that if students test out of services in first or second grade they usually have language issues that resurface in fourth or fifth grade. ELL numbers are small in this area, so all ELL students are in mainstream classrooms for most of the school day. I am interested to know what assessments other states use, if teachers feel that it gives an accurate picture of ELLS in their classes, and how teachers feel about standardized testing in general. Do you think that the government should mandate the exiting of students from ELL services based on the result of one standardized test? Or do you think that ELLs should also have to test proficient on the mainstream standardized test for your state before they are exited from services? Is there a better way to test the language abilities of ELLs? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
     
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  3. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    May 22, 2017

    Did WIDA get their contract back? I used to score ACCESS and last thing I heard was that they lost the contract for ELL testing to a company out of I think it was Wisconsin or Michigan. Having read literally thousands and thousands of the tests, there are some limitations, especially in the early grades. The test, or at least the part I handled, isn't the most reliable because it's rooted in literacy skills. If the kids are literate, but with limited English, they can still do well on the test because the reading level on the questions has to be low enough for their age, which means lots of simple words. The tests for the older grades show more about their ability to function in an English-based classroom. To me, placement should be based on a combination of the test and teacher evaluations. If it weren't for the tests, some districts would force kids mainstream well before they were ready in order to save money.
     
  4. RobinR

    RobinR New Member

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    May 23, 2017

    I do not think WIDA handles the actual tests anymore. They handle all of the training and the screeners, but there is another company that handles the actual ACCESS tests. I am not sure if they have the contract or if they are subcontracted from WIDA.

    When I fist started teaching we used both the ACCESS and the NECAP, which was the mainstream standardized test at the time that students take starting in third grade, so students could not be exited before the end of third grade, but the state was threatened by the federal government that if we used more than one assessment we would lose federal funds. Vermont is way too small a state to be able to survive without federal funding. It is sad because unfortunately it is more about money than about the needs of children. I think you are right though, if the test was not mandated some kids would be forced out of the program just because they can communicate socially in English! Thanks for your thoughts!
     

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