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ELD 504: Assessment of English Language Learners Learning Team A December 5, 2011

INTRODUCTION Assessments can provide the teacher with information regarding student understanding of the content being taught. Assessments can also determine student achievement and areas where they may be falling behind. It is imperative that assessments be used to gauge student learning in relation to content standards. Carefully selected assessments can be used across curricular areas as they provide organized and specific criteria relating to the learning objectives.

Incorporating suitable assessments in reading and writing is important for students as they are essential components to communication in the English language. The following reading and writing assessments are research based and effective ways to accurately and properly assess student achievement for high school aged students. These assessments were carefully chosen to meet the guidelines set forth by the California Department of Education for English-Language Arts (ELA) Content Standards.

READING ASSESSMENT Reading assessments are critical for high school students because information gleaned from informal and formal assessments help determine the reading abilities and levels of all students in content-rich academic settings. Reading assessments are used for teachers to understand how students obtain information and acquire literacy. Selected assessments should also take into account students’ backgrounds and how students structure and retain new literacy knowledge (Wren, 2004). Awareness and utilization of various formal and informal reading strategies inform instructional planning, aiding in the selection of which skills are best for specific students. Three specific reading assessments greatly benefit high school students and their efforts to improve their reading skills.

READING FLUENCY: DIBELS Reading fluency is often considered a

Because DIBELS is also useful for monitoring the

bridge between word decoding and

effectiveness of reading interventions (Kaminski and

comprehension. A formal assessment used to

Good, 1996, as cited by Blom-Hoffman, et al., 2002),

measure reading fluency is called DIBELS.

it can be applied to any student acquiring new

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, or

language skills. By using DIBELS, instructors can track

DIBELS (Good and Kaminski, 1996, as cited by

individual students’ progress and their level of

Blom-Hoffman, Dwyer, Clarke, and Power, 2002),

achievement. Once students have the ability to

designed to assess phonological and alphabetic

decode words accuracy, their reading fluency rates

awareness and fluency, measures a broad range

will increase. Since reading fluency is also a requisite

of important early literacy skills that are predictors

skill in social studies, science, and math, DIBLELS can

of later reading proficiency (Reading Rockets,

be a useful strategy to support English language


learners (ELLs) in content areas other than ELAs.

TOWRE: TEST OF WORD READING EFFICIENCY Decoding is a skill needed to grant students access to information in content area texts as they progress through their academic careers. A formal assessment to measure students’ ability to decode is the Test of Word Reading Efficiency, or TOWRE (Torgesen, Wagner, and Tashotte, 1999, as cited in Berninger, Smith, and O’Donnell, 2004). This assessment is used to help determine students’ ability to decode words efficiently by reading a passage of text as clearly and correctly as possible. The instructor monitors student performance by noting mistakes made by individual students while reading and decoding words. This instrument can prove especially helpful in monitoring the progress of ELLs with their English decoding skills.


An individual portfolio is an informal way to assess students’ abilities, progress, and achievements through teacher/classroom observations and samples of work. Instruction on how to pick a piece of work to place in a portfolio is beneficial for students because it models reflection of their own work while encouraging students to take an active role in learning information they feel they have not yet mastered (Reading, 2011b).

This allows the teacher to compare and check the progress of students over the course of an academic year. This method can be applied in any subject area and is especially effective with ELLs when monitoring beginning of the year work samples with end of the year progress (Pierce, 2002).

WRITING ASSESSMENT Writing assessment can be used for a variety of purposes, such as delivering feedback to students, student placement, realizing proficiency in a given subject area, and earning a grade. Because students and educators, more often than not, are confronted with high stakes academic accountability, it is paramount assessment protocols are guided by sound pedagogical principles to insure that they are valid, fair, and appropriate to the context and purpose for which they are designed (Conference on College Composition and Communication, 2009). Formal and informal writing assessments are used regularly for a variety of reasons to meet essential criteria for high school students throughout California.

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Despite the importance of writing, many high school students do not learn to write well enough to meet the demands of school or the workplace. The National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that many students do not develop the competence in writing needed at their respective grade levels (Persky, Daane& Jin, 2003, as cited in Graham and Perin, 2007). These findings support why it is critical for classroom teachers to instruct and perform regular informal writing assessment to meet the needs of students. Authentic assessment measures are performance-based, and should be used to guide instruction (Evaluation, 2006).

Directions: Label each part of the essay using a different colored pen. Authentic assessments benefit students best when they are utilized across the curriculum. Summaries, journaling, quickwrites, rewriting a story, and letter-writing are some examples of well-designed activities that provide teachers with fast authentic assessments of student performance. A variety of writing rubrics are available from reliable sources that can assist teachers and students before, during, and after writing activities. It is also suggested that peer editing be utilized to provide interaction among students. Students often benefit from reading, editing, and r

rewriting one another’s work.


Framed writing models are

Frames can be used at the beginning,

graphic organizers that offer students

middle, and end of instruction to

a solid framework in which to write

make content-area learning more

paragraphs and essays. The instructor-

motivating and meaningful. Frames

provided frame guides students

can also be utilized across disciplines

through a formal writing structure

to develop literacy and thinking skills

while making available scaffolding for

(Ellis, 1998).

writing skills like transitional sentences and compound-complex syntax (Reading Rockets, 2011).

REVISION Revising one’s writing is a way to learn about the craft of writing. Learning to revise teaches students about the characteristics of good writing, which will help to improve the quality of their future writing. Revision skills complement reading skills and require that writers distance themselves from their writing in order to critically evaluate their own work (Reading Rockets, 2011c). It is important to instill good revision practices in young writers because it gives them an opportunity for reflection about their process. Peer editing has proven to be a successful way to help students develop revision skills (Graham & Harris, 2007, as cited by Reading Rockets, 2011c). This is particularly true when peer groups have explicit goals for revision (MacArthur, 2007, as cited by Reading Rockets, 2011c).

WRITING CONFERENCES Research on the writing process

Donald Graves (1982) identified six

advocates that writers learn most efficiently

characteristics of successful writing

about writing when they share and reflect on

conferences. Conferences should: (a) have a

their writing. In classrooms, this is most

predictable structure; (b) focus on a few

commonly done through writing conferences

points; (c) demonstrate solutions to students'

as part of the revision stage. Whether they

problems; (d) permit role reversals; (e)

occur with pairs, with small groups, or with the

encourage use of a vocabulary appropriate for

teacher, the social benefits of sharing writing

writing; and (f) stimulate pleasure in writing.

improves writing (Reading Rockets, 2011d).

Most teachers use some variation of these characteristics in their classrooms across the curriculum.

CONCLUSION Assessing the reading and writing abilities of students is an essential part of the learning process. Assessments are done at every level of the learning process. The reasons for assessments are to identify skills that need review, monitor student progress, guide teacher instruction, demonstrate the effectiveness of instruction, and provide teachers with information on how instruction can be improved.

Both instructor and student benefit from the results of initial and ongoing assessment. Educators are able to design instruction to meet the individual needs of their students. Ongoing informal assessments are particularly important for English Language Learners. Informal assessments (partner reading, class discussion, role-playing, brainstorming, etc.)

can provide a more well-rounded picture of their skills, abilities, and ongoing progress. Educators can design immediate instruction based on the results of informal assessment. Mastering reading and writing skills are extremely important because they are used in every subject area. Achieving these skills at every level of learning helps students to be successful life-long learners.


 Berninger, V., Smith, D.R., & O’Donnell, L. (2004). Research-supported assessment-intervention links for reading and writing. National Association of School Psychologists. Retrieved from  Blom-Hoffman, J., Dwyer, J.F., Clarke, A.T., & Power, T.J. (2002). Strategies for conducting outcome evaluations of early intervention literacy programs. National Association of School Psychologists. Retrieved from  Conference on College Composition and Communication (2009). Writing Assessment: A position statement. Retrieved

REFERENCES (CONT.)  Ellis, E.S.(1998). Framing main ideas and essential details to promote comprehension. Tuscaloosa, AL: Masterminds.  Evaluation Springboard (2006). Selected methods: Assessments. Rockman et al & EdVenture Group. Retrieved from en_us&output=json&session-id=5fcabef1be960952 ace1b3a302aae4e3.  Good, R. H., & Kaminski, R. A. (1996). Assessment for instructional decisions: Toward a proactive/prevention model of decision-making for early literacy skills. School Psychology Quarterly, 11, 326−336.  Graham, S. & Harris K. (2007). Best practices in teaching planning. In S. Graham, C. MacArthur, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.) Best practices in writing instruction. New York: Guilford  Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). A meta-analysis for writing instruction for adolescent students. Journal of Educational Psychololgy,99 (3) pp. 445-476.  Graves, D. (1982). Six guideposts to a successful writing conference. Learning, 11(4), 76-77

REFERENCES (CONT.)  Kaminski, R. A., & Good, R. H. (1996). Toward a technology for assessing basic early literacy skills. School Psychology Review, 25, 215-227.  MacArthur, C. (2007). Best practices in teaching evaluation and revision. In S. Graham, C. MacArthur, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.) Best practices in writing instruction. New York: Guilford.  Persky, H. R., Daane, M. C., & Jin, Y. (2003). The nation’s report card: Writing 2002. (NCES 2003–529). U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences. National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.  Pierce, L. V. (2002). Performance-based assessment: Promoting achievement for English language learners. ERIC/CLL News Bulletin, 24, (1), pp. 1-3.

REFERENCES (CONT.)  Reading Rockets (2011a). Classroom strategies. Washington, D.C.: WETA. Retrieved from strategies/.  Reading Rockets (2011b). Types of informal classroom-based assessment: Portfolios. Washington D.C.: WETA. Retrieved from  Reading Rockets (2011c). Classroom strategies: Revision. Washington, D.C.: WETA. Retrieved from  Reading Rockets (2011d).Classroom strategies: Writing conferences. Washington, D.C.: WETA. Retrieved from

REFERENCES (CONT.)  Torgesen, J.K., Wagner, R. K., & Rashotte, C.A. (1999). Test of Word Reading Efficiency. Austin, TX: PRO-ED Publishing, Inc.  Weaver, B. (2011). Formal versus informal assessment. Scholastic Teachers. Retrieved from http:// json&sessionid=5fcabef1be960952ace1b3a302aae4e3.  Wren, S. (2004, November). Descriptions of early reading assessments. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Retrieved from

IMAGES  Microsoft Clip art gallery  MisterElements (2011). Notebook sketch doodle clip. Retrieved from  Tatsumi67 (2009). Notebook paper must be stopped. Deviant Retrieved from art/Notebook-PaperMust-Be-Stopped-116237037

ELD 504: Reading and Writing Assessment  

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