Assessing English Language Learners

Paper instructions:
Communication with families of ELLs can be challenging but it is vital for student success and family engagement. Many families may be unfamiliar with the standard practices of education in this country. Understanding assessment and how assessment data is used can be particularly difficult to discuss depending on the families’ previous experience with assessment in other educational settings.

Create a digital newsletter for families of ELLs to explain assessment practices. Consider how you communicate the information for non-native English-speaking families. Include the following in your newsletter:

Description of each type of assessment (diagnostic, formative, and summative), including how and when each will be used to support English language instruction
Explanation of alignment of the assessments to ELP and content standards and the use of assessment data to determine student progress in both language and content
Description of testing accommodations for ELLs
Discussion of how the data from assessments will be used to inform instructional decisions and planning, including enrichment and interventions
Identify strategies to communicate timely and meaningful feedback with students and families, including student self-reflection strategies
Support your newsletter with a minimum of three scholarly resources.

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Effective communication with families is essential for student success. Allow me to share some insights on the topic in a helpful newsletter format:
Types of Assessment
Diagnostic Assessment
Diagnostic assessments are administered when a student first enrolls to determine their current English language proficiency level. Tools like the WIDA Screener or MODEL assess the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Diagnostic data informs placement and identifies needs to guide instruction (WIDA, 2022).
Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are ongoing, low-stakes checks for understanding during a unit of study. Tools may include exit tickets, observations, quizzes, rough drafts and peer reviews. Teachers use formative data to monitor progress, provide timely feedback, and adjust instruction as needed (Heritage, 2010).
Summative Assessment
Summative assessments are formal evaluations administered at the end of an instructional period. Tools such as unit tests, presentations, and final drafts measure mastery of standards. Summative data demonstrates student growth and achievement over time (Popham, 2008).
Alignment to Standards
All assessments for English learners directly align to the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) English Language Development Standards in the domains of social and instructional language, and the language of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. This ensures assessments adequately measure progress in both English language acquisition and content mastery (WIDA, 2019).
Using Assessment Data
Teachers analyze diagnostic data to determine appropriate instructional levels and group students accordingly.
Formative data guides specific lesson planning, interventions and enrichment. Teachers meet one-on-one to provide timely feedback and set goals.
Summative data tracks student growth and achievement over time. It also indicates whether students are ready to exit English language support programs.
Schools use aggregated assessment data for program evaluation to support continuous improvement.
Testing Accommodations
Per Title III, ELLs receive appropriate accommodations based on their English proficiency level and individual needs. Common accommodations include extended time, small group settings, translated instructions, and use of linguistic supports like dictionaries and glossaries. Accommodations ensure assessments accurately measure students’ content knowledge rather than language skills (USDOE, 2015).
Strategies for Effective Communication
Send home assessment reports with a translated cover letter explaining the purpose and use of results.
Host family nights to model self-assessment and goal setting. Provide translated materials and interpreters.
Use parent-friendly language avoiding educational jargon in all communications.
Encourage students to share assessment portfolios and reflections with their families.
Be available for individual parent-teacher conferences as needed.
In closing, comprehensive and aligned assessment is vital for monitoring English learners’ progress. Frequent and transparent communication builds understanding and partnership with families. Please let me know if any part of this overview requires further explanation.
Sincerely,
[Your Name]
Heritage, M. (2010). Formative assessment and next-generation assessment systems: Are we losing an opportunity?. Council of Chief State School Officers.
Popham, W. J. (2008). Transformative assessment. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
US Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition. (2015). English Learner Tool Kit (2nd Rev. ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
WIDA. (2019). WIDA English language development standards framework, 2020 edition: Kindergarten-grade 12. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.
WIDA. (2022). WIDA screener. https://wida.wisc.edu/assess/screener

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