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How Should The "Next Generation" Of Standardized Tests Treat ELL's?

This week's question comes from Louise Oppedahl, who asks:

How will common core standardized assessments allow ESL students to show improvement? A beginning student in high school cannot even take a grade level test fairly even if allowed a bilingual dictionary and time and a half. The intermediate student would not fare much better. Since, in many places, 40% or more of a Teacher's rating will be based on standardized tests, most ESL teachers will not rate well. Getting lower ratings leads to termination.

This is indeed a timely question given that both multi-state consortia who are developing this next generation of testing are well-on-their way to doing so, and many observers are deeply concerned about how the needs of ELL's are being considered in their deliberations. In fact, Education Week recently published a commentary on this topic titled "ELL Assessment: One Size Does Not Fit All."

Over half of the students at our high school are English Language Learners, and several classes I teach are comprised entirely of Beginning and Intermediate ELL's, so I'm definitely very interested in Louise's question.

Both groups developing the tests have agreed to contribute a response this question. I hope that readers will contribute their own ideas in the comments section of this post about what accommodations and/or modifications should be made by them for ELL's. I'll share a few of them next Wednesday, where I'll also publish my response and ideas from invited guests.

Next week's question will relate to standardized testing in general so it would be great if you could save your comments on that broader topic for a few more days. For this week, let's focus on challenges facing ELL's in particular.

Anyone whose question is selected for this weekly column can choose one free book from a selection of twelve published by Eye On Education. Thanks, Louise!

You can send questions to me at lferlazzo@epe.org.When you send in your question, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

I'm looking forward to learning from people's responses!

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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