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A Focus on Assessing 'Up'
Assessing ESL Students
Assessing Primary School Writing
Assessment and Autism
Assessment and ELL Students
Assessment and English Language Learners
Assessment and Strategies for Visually Impaired Students
Assessment For & Of Dyslexia and Dysgraphia
Assessment for Dyslexia and Reading Disorder
Assessment for FASD
Assessment for Kinesthetic Learners
Assessment for Kinesthetic Learners - PQR
Assessment For Learning
Assessment For Learning Tools
Assessment for Rhythmic and Musical Learners
Assessment for students with ADHD
Assessment of a Variety of Behavioral Disabilities
Assessment of Physical Education in Elementary
Assessment Strategies for Differentiated Learning
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Assessing ESL Students
Table of Contents
General Learner Outcomes
Areas of Assessment
Accuplacer ESL Listening Test
English Second Language (ESL) learners are those students whose English language proficiency hinders them from full participation in learning experiences. There is an increasing number of ESL students in classrooms today. We as teachers must be able to develop these children in all areas of education as well as in the English language. Assessing ESL students differs from assessing students whose first language is English in that ESL students may learn and understand concepts, but their written or oral work can display a lower level of understanding. This site will share some ideas on how to teach and assess ESL students in today's classroom.
General Learner Outcomes
The Alberta Senior High Program of Studies lists four general learning outcomes for ESL students:
Use spoken and written English to gather, interpret and communicate information
Use spoken and written English to establish and maintain relationships
Use spoken and written English to make decisions, solve problems, and plan and carry out projects
Explore, respond to and extend ideas and experiences
ESL students move through four levels containing listening, speaking, reading and writing:
Pre-Beginner - Not ready for instruction in English, act as observers and listeners in the class
Beginner - Ready for intense instruction in speaking, reading and writing in English
Intermediate - Gain some competence in English, but still requires direct instruction
Advanced - Have English competence, language skills continue to develop naturally
Speaking for English as a Second Language students is of great importance to their success within the academic and professional world. Communication elements such as intonation, timing, inflection, speed, rhythm, pausing, gesturing and facial expressions are all included in the assessment of speaking. Students progress through levels within assessment of speaking. The levels progress from levels 1 to 5. Students are placed in levels based on their grade and english literacy. These levels are determined by
is categorized into four categories; linguistic competence, strategic competence, socio-linguistic competence, discourse competence. These categories assist teachers to organize the lesson plans they create to ensure the success of the ESL students.
Effective lesson plans for ESL students are done in both individual situations and group situations. Formative assessment is key in order to gage where on the ESL benchmarks the student should be placed.
Practice makes perfect!
For Individual assessment
Be sure to include one-on-one time with the student during class time
Use video and/or audio recording to help the student gain confidence
During verbal reading assessment ensure there is effective interaction
Conduct it on an ongoing bases
Use prior knowledge and relevant information from the students native land in lessons
Use visual cues
For Group Assessment
Teachers should closely observe the student during class group work
Encourage the student to participate within discussions
Place the student in groups that involve other students who are supportive of their needs
This video displays a grade 5 student who is at level one for speaking proficiency.
Grade 5 - Level 1
Notice the progressive change with this grade 5 student who is at a level five for speaking proficiency.
Grade 5 - Level 5
How to conduct assessment:
Obviously making the switch from another language to English is going to be an intimidating task for the student as well as the teacher. It is important for students to be able to read, understand and speak in English and it is also essential for the student to be able to express themselves through writing as well. Assessment of ESL writing is a task that may seem daunting to some teachers, but it is important to know that proper assessment is a process that takes time, patience and the proper use of steps and scaffolding to achieve this goal.
Areas of Assessment
It includes grammar, vocabulary and the mechanics of language. These performance aspects of written language are highly valued in judging the quality of a piece of writing.
A strategic writer creates text appropriate to purpose, voice, audience, form and occasion.
The student is able to vary the use of language in terms of audience, purpose, genre, topic and degree of formality. It is through socio-linguistic competence that writers mainatin their credibility with their audience.
Knowledge of transitional devices that connect one element in a text with another. Transitional devices such as reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction and lexical cohesion.
Here is the link to the Learn Alberta site which outlines the benchmarks for students to achieve competence in his or her writing:
For a teacher it is important to keep the process of formative assessment in mind. By using formative assessment it allows the teacher to know where the student needs to put in some extra work and also shows where students are being successful. Focussing on the small goals and using steps to success will ensure a positive and motivating learning environment for the students.
Some interesting ideas for assessment tools are:
Unedited student written work
Using samples of completed work to help improve student understanding
Some assessment ideas to keep in mind when reviewing students work are:
Does the student:
Write for a varitey of audiences and purposes?
Write on specific topics?
Demonstrate a variety of written formats?
Manipulate verb tenses?
Vary sentence construction?
Pay attention to punctuation and spelling?
Provided here is a link to the ATA: Understanding ESL Learners: Assessment page:
Assessment of social interaction of ESL students can be challenging. It can be hard to be sure that the student is not repeating what the teacher or fellow classmates are saying, but rather applying their own knowledge. Social interactions in society are crutial for school, everyday tasks and work. Social interaction should be done mostly through formative assessment.
Accuplacer ESL Listening Test
This is a computer-based test in which the ESL student has unlimited time. The test measures the ability to listen to and understand one or more people speaking in English. The questions are multiple choice and converations and questions can be played a maximum of three times.
The assessment measures the following abilities:
identify the main idea or main subject of the passage
identify factual details and information
understand the relationship between ideas (e.g. sequence of events, cause and effect, comparison and contrast, problem and solution)
identify the speaker's purpose, tone, or point of view
I found some example questions that would be on this test, here is a link:
There are many challenges involving assessment of ESL learners.
The language and literacy needs of these students are often misunderstood by the fact that they may be fluent at least in informal spoken English. Therefore, their academic challenges are commonly attributed to a ‘deficit’ in ability in the students, rather than recognition of the need for ongoing support in their literacy and language development.
There are three key challenges involved in teaching ESL students:
Being able to cover curriculum
Assessing the level of improvement
The challenges involved in ESL learning for students are numerous:
explaining that they do or do not understand
listening to instructions
interacting in groups with other students
ESL students are typically very different from other learners in their past experiences, background, and skills. Some learners may have literacy skills and content knowledge from attending school regularly in another country, but these skills are probably known in another language. Other learners may be from war-torn countries or from a country with a natural disaster where schooling was not readily available. These learners are generally from low-income families and the resources these learners needs are entirely different. It is important that a teacher finds out about who the student is and where they come from, so they can help understand what their needs are.
This video shows struggles and strategies for ESL learners
A goal for teachers is to be able to successfully integrate ESL learning into the classroom, where all students can learn together. We should try to move away from separating ESL learners into a different learning environment, and focus on integrating ESL learning styles into our lessons. Teachers should research specific strategies for ESL learners and practice them in the classroom so that they feel comfortable teaching ESL students, and those students achieve greater success.
Hammond, Jennifer. "Intellectual Challenge and ESL students: Implications of Quality Teaching Initiatives."
Australian Journal of Language & Literacy (
Ernst-Slavit, Gisela, et al. "Changing Lives: Teaching English and Literature to ESL students."
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy
George Brown Colledge
. N.p., 2012. Web. 1 Oct 2012.
. N.p., 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2012.
English as a Second Language: Guide to Implementation, Kindergarten to Grade 9
(2007) Alberta. Alberta Education. Learning and Teaching Resources Branch.
Cheng, Liying, and Terry Milnes. "Teachers' Assessment of ESL Students in Mainstream Classes: Challenges, Strategies, and Decision-Making."
TESL Canada Journal
. 25.2 (2008): 49-65. Web. 2 Oct. 2012.
Villamil, O., & Carrasquillo, A. (1988).
Assessing Writing in the ESL Classroom
help on how to format text
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