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Assessing English Language Learners

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Assessing English Language Learners Grand Canyon University ESL 533N April 10, 2013 Abstract The OTELA test is the assessment given in Ohio to determine if a student can be removed from the ELL program and be a part of the mainstream classroom. The test is similar to the ELDA test given in many other states. It is a shorter test in duration of number of questions on each part. The OTELA is compared more in detail to the ELDA, STAAR and the AZELLA. Each of these assessments are very similar although they have some differences.

A few states have reported to have changed the test they have used in the past. By states changing their assessment, it shows these states are looking for a better way to determine if students should stay in the ELL program at their school.

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The OTELA test is the current test used in the Ohio schools. This test is used throughout Ohio in grades K-12 to assess English language proficient. This test is similar to the ELDA test but shorter number of questions are given. The test covers the four standards of Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Listening.

When giving the test, the two sections of Reading, Writing, and Listening may be given with a group however the Speaking assessment must be given individually. The Speaking and Listening assessment comes with a CD for students to listen to and respond. The answer document provides the assessor with a rubric to easily score the students response in the Listening section. The test has some benefits and some drawbacks. On the plus side, the test is quick to administer. It is straight forward as well. The test is used to determine if the student needs to be reclassified as no longer ELL.

When students are determined to be ELL, they must stay in the ELL program until their 2nd grade year. After that, if the student scores a composite score of five or higher or scores a four and completes a trail period of mainstream instruction and receives a four or five, they can be reclassified as not ELL (Ohio Department of Education). Some drawbacks are this test is only used to determine if a student is continuing as an ELL student. The test results are not shared in the mainstream classroom or with the special education teachers.

The test results, if shared, could be used to help drive the differentiated instruction in the classroom to best meet their needs. Students that still show they qualify as an ELL student but speak fluent English get overlooked in the mainstream classroom. The assessment should be presented to teachers in a way of bringing awareness to the needs of the ELL student regardless of their level of need. When the school is administering the test with the knowledge that it is only used to determine their eligibility as an ELL student, it cannot be used as a workable method for monitoring student progress.

The test is administered then forgotten about until the results come. Then forgotten once again. It does not matter what assessment is given, but how the results are being utilized. Closing the achievement gap is always the goal in every educational setting. In order to do this, the assessments being used in the classroom is extremely important. All states are required to administer an assessment designed to measure students’ progress in “… attaining proficiency, including a child’s level of comprehension, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in English”.

The English Language Development Assessment (ELDA) was developed to meet these requirements. This test focuses on four tests to tests students’ ability to speak, write, listen, and read in English (South Carolina State Department of Education, 2012). This is different from the OTELA where it does not calculate a comprehension score. This test is given throughout seven states. Some states have been using this test over serveral years and others just recently adopted this test. The STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) assessment is a new assessment that the state of Texas adopted this year.

TAKS ( Texas Assessment of Knowledge Skills) is the assessment used in prior year. The difference with the STAAR assessment is that it will test content students studied that year, as opposed to testing content studied over multiple years. Doing so will strengthen the alignment between what is taught and what is tested for a given course of study. While STAAR mathematics, reading, writing, and social studies assessments in grades 3–8 will continue to address only those TEKS taught in the given subject and grade, the content of other STAAR assessments will change (STAAR Resources, 2012).

The AZELLA (Arizona English Language Learners Assessment) like the OTELA, meets both state and federal requirements for assessing the language proficiency of students identified as second language learners and determines placement for appropriate instruction. The AZELLA score is used for entry and exit criteria for ELL program services, for measuring annual progress, and for monitoring the language proficiency of students for two years after they have exited the ELL/SEI program.

References “Ohio Department of Education ODE. ” ODE. N. p. , n. d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. http://www. ode. state. oh. us/GD/Templates/Pages/ODE/ODEDetail. aspx? page=3 “STAAR Resources. ” Retrieved on 11 Apr 2013, from http://www. tea. state. tx. us/student. assessment/staar/ “South Carolina State Department of Education. ” English Language Development Assessment. Retrieved on April 10, 2013, from http://ed. sc. gov/agency/programs-services/42/

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