A National Research Agenda to Improve the Educational Assessment and Attainment of English Language Learners

Thursday, June 20, 2013: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
National Harbor 4 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
  • 6.13.13_CCSSO-Assessment_Diane_August.pdf (1.1 MB)
  • Content Strands:
    1. Transitioning assessment systems
    2. Transitioning special populations
    Will the PARCC and SBAC assessment systems lead to more valid results regarding the performance of English language learners (ELLs)? For ELLs, what is the relationship of their English language proficiency to performance on large-scale content assessments? What theories can inform the development of more effective instruction and classroom assessment for ELLs? These and other questions were the focus of a working meeting of 20 nationally prominent ELL researchers held in September of 2012 at UCLA. The presenters in this symposium will highlight the ideas and discussions from this meeting for future research directions.

               Funded by a grant from the American Educational Research Association (AERA), a primary goal of this meeting is to develop a national research agenda for the next decade that will improve the educational assessment and attainment of ELLs. The symposium organizer is the lead researcher for the AERA grant and he will serve as the moderator and lead presenter. He will provide an overview and some background on the meeting of researchers and introduce the presenters and their topics. The first presenter will discuss the research needs for developing theories of learning that integrate the development of English proficiency with the acquisition of content knowledge by ELLs. For these learning theories to be broadly useful, they must connect, for ELLs, their language proficiency and content knowledge to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  The second presenter will discuss theories and models for developing effective instruction and assessment practices that integrate the development of language proficiency and mastery of the CCSS for ELLs. These theories and models must fully characterize the particular learning needs of ELLs as they simultaneously strive to develop mastery of academic language as well as subject matter knowledge.

                The third presenter will describe the research needs surrounding English language proficiency (ELP) standards and assessment. This topic is especially timely given the efforts to develop new ELP standards and next-generation ELP assessments to be aligned with the CCSS. The presenter will discuss the differences and similarities in CCSS and ELP standards. Additionally, a critical research agenda on the consequences of ELP assessment uses (e.g., ELL classification, re-classification) and the relationship between students’ language proficiency and their performance on content assessments will be discussed. The presenter will share some findings to highlight the significant impact of ELP assessment uses on ELL classification. The fourth presenter will highlight the research issues related to ELLs taking content assessments, particularly in the new assessment systems. Given the use of computer-based delivery systems as well as innovative item formats, will these new assessments function more effectively in assessing ELLs’ content knowledge and provide more valid scores for them? In addition, how can new computer-based testing accommodations be developed that will be more effective in making content assessments accessible to ELLs?

                The discussant for this symposium is the primary ELL specialist in her state’s department of education. In addition, she serves as the co-chair of the SBAC Accessibility and Accommodations work group and has been centrally involved in deliberations regarding accessibility for ELLs during the development of the SBAC assessment system. She will provide useful insights from a state perspective on the research needed to improve the educational assessment and attainment of ELLs.