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Common-Core Test Experts Explain ELL and Special Education Supports

The two experts closest to the development of features designed to make the new common-core assessments accessible to all students, including English-language learners, appeared on edweek.org yesterday to answer questions from the field.

Magda Chia, the director of system design and support for underrepresented students for Smarter Balanced; and Tamara Reavis, a senior adviser for assessment, accessibility, and equity at PARCC; spent an hour taking questions and explaining the range of supports and features for students with disabilities and English-language learners. The full chat transcript is on edweek.org.

The largest share of questions focused on accommodations for students with disabilities, but there are good nuggets of information in there for educators and parents who are more interested in what each testing consortia is offering for English-learners.

There are some pretty significant differences between what Smarter Balanced and PARCC are offering for English-learners. Smarter Balanced, for example, has embedded digital word glossaries  in its math tests in 10 languages. PARCC does not offer embedded digital glossaries on its math tests, but does allow students to use paper glossaries that will have to be provided by local districts.

Both Chia and Reavis said that the testing groups would soon be analyzing data from the spring field tests to see how English-learners experienced the new exams, as well as the language supports.

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