Assessment is a valuable tool to measure students learning and achievement. It is an essential element for teacher to reflect on what and how they teach. To assess students is to collect evidence of their learning. Teachers use the information to modify their lesson plans and adjust their instructional methods; students need feedback on their performance to concentrate on their vulnerable areas. Assessment is necessary for parents to reinforce their children strength and assist them where extra attention is required.
The data collected will inform school administration the parts of improvement that both teachers and students needed and for the state and federal levels, as is important to determine if additional funding is necessary to assist students in their learning and achievement. To provide the suitable service and achieve optimal result, teachers and administrators must identify their ELL students and place them in classroom that best fit with their abilities.
In an interview conducted with Miss Fabiaschi, an academic dean at a charter school in my district, she said that at her school parents are providing information on home language on the application. Then they use the CELDT (California English Language Development Test) to determine which level of English proficiency for their students. She added, there are two types of ELLs, the new enrollments, which are kindergartens who enroll in school for the first time or students of higher grade levels who transferred from different schools, districts, or states; and the second type are the returning ELL students.
The CELDT is a requirement of the California Department of Education. Students from kindergarten to 12th grade whose speak a different language at home are required to take this test and the school using their scores to identify students who still need help in areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing. The test is given on a yearly basis to ELL students. According to Miss Fabiaschi, at her school the test is administered on the fall when students are returning to school.
There are many forms of both formal and informal assessment tools and approaches that help teachers evaluate the language development and the progress performance of their students. Assessment approaches are the way teachers assess their students and assessment tools referred to the instruments that utilize to measure each method. Some of those tools includes: Tests, quizzes, projects, classroom performances, tasks, observations, portfolios and standardize tests. Tests and quizzes are given periodically to ensure students comprehend the subject contents.
Performance tasks and projects are used to measure students’ accumulated skills and knowledge in problem-solving and critical thinking whereas observations and portfolios are evidences to show students performance and achievement over the period of time. Each of these forms of assessment is very effective when utilized and conducted at an appropriate time. Per Miss Fabiaschi, in addition to the CELDT her school also gives the ADEPT (A Developmental English Proficiency Test).
This test according to the California Reading and Literature Project “is a valid and reliable oral language assessment instrument that can be used with students across levels, K-8 to assess student’s ability to understand and generate utterances using a scope and sequence of English proficiency” (2009-2011). Furthermore, the classroom teachers use scaffolding questions in their whole and small group instructions to gather evidence on their student language growth and development.
She went on explain that with different learning styles and comprehension levels of the students, the school gives individual assessment to each student five times in a school year. This assessment is done in addition to those taken inside the classrooms that are given by the home room teachers. The purpose is to move children up and place them in the appropriate levels according to their developmental growth. At the beginning of the school year all teachers receive a copy of CELDT scores of the students in their classrooms and access to the students previous year’s copy of the CELDT stored in their accumulative file.
Teachers then use these data together with their skills, knowledge, daily observations and scaffold questioning techniques to gauge students in their language proficiency developments. The academic dean emphasized that with 75% of her school population being English Language Learners their certified GLADS (Guided Language Acquisition Development) teachers are extremely well trained in many research based strategies to handle and give effective instruction to all levels of ELLs like pre-production, early production, speech emergence, intermediate fluency and advanced fluency to push all students toward rigorous learning.
(Interview with Miss Fabiaschi) Some examples of assessment that are given to students across levels K-5 to determine their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills including sound out letters and words in both small and upper cases of the alphabet, counting blocks, retelling story in students’ own words, write short sentences and complete book reports.
To become an effective teacher of the 21st century, one must prepare themselves not only to teach the subject content but also the skills and knowledge of how to handle the diversity of the students. Continue in their professional development to update and learn different assessment techniques and tools, evaluate the students on a regular basis to assist them achieving their optimal learning.
California Department of Education (07/2011) California English Language Development Test (CELDT). Retrieved 09/24/2011 from: http://www. cde. ca. gov/ta/tg/el/ California Reading and Literature Project. (2009-2011) ADEPT (A Developmental English Proficiency Test). The Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 09/24/2011 from: https://csmp. ucop. edu/projects/about/crlp/ Fabiaschi, E. (09/2011) Interview with Miss Fabiaschi conducted on 09/22/2011.
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