Essential And Guiding Questions That Are Aligned With Lesson-Level Objectives ESL Teaching Tips – Using Pre-Assessment Techniques to Plan Instruction

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ESL Teaching Tips – Using Pre-Assessment Techniques to Plan Instruction

Assessment that is custom designed to fit a particular classroom situation gives an accurate picture of struggling ELLs and their reading abilities. Pre-assessment and post-assessment techniques help teachers identify a starting point and steps in the process of adapting the curriculum for ELLs in a general education framework. Informal assessment, such as observation and documentation allows teachers to modify lesson plans as needed to make sure ELLs grasp key concepts.

Assessment provides teachers with concrete evidence as they consider what they can do to improve students’ learning. Pre-assessment results can guide teachers as they plan and implement steps to meet instructional goals, including goals to deepen reading comprehension and increase fluency. Informal assessment conducted alongside instruction helps teachers refine learning goals and objectives.

An Overview of Assessment Procedures in an ELL Classroom

Research shows that a system of accountability is necessary for supporting ELLs in general education classes as well as ESLs who receive language support in small instructional groups. “The research on the development of English literacy strongly suggests that adequate assessments are essential for gauging the individual strengths and weaknesses of language-minority students, making placement decisions, and tailoring instruction to meet student needs” (Shanahan and August, Executive summary, page 6). Ideally, a system of accountability should be supported by a wide variety of assessment measures, which have been carefully aligned with the program’s content standards, curriculum, and actual classroom instructional practices (Espinosa and Lopez, 2007).

Assessment Techniques

Teachers evaluate their students prior to, during, and after instruction using a variety of procedures and techniques. In the context of ELLs in a general education classroom, teachers will want to begin pre-assessment procedures with various forms of diagnostic testing to determine what their students can and cannot do. This information will also help the teacher modify and differentiate classroom instruction. During instruction, teachers use informal observations, samples of student work, and other forms of documentation to provide them with current information about student achievement. Reflective learning logs may play a role as educators reflect on instructional goals and what they learn from collaboration about various assessment techniques.

Questions for consideration include:

o What assessment type did you use? Did it contain all elements for the “struggling ELL” definition?

o When do ESL and general education teachers collaborate on joint assessments?

o When and how was your first assessment completed to determine eligibility of students in a general education class?

o How and when do you continue to update assessment to determine progress?

Student performance should be determined by a variety of factors including that of assessment. Struggling learners should be evaluated based upon their progress in general education and ESL classes based on material that is designed for their level. Schools and districts in general, have their own state standard test for intake and placement of entering ELLs as well as exit exams for determining placement of ESL students. However schools do not provide guidelines for determining struggling ELLs’ progress according to standards designed for general education classes or ESL learning groups. This is where ESL and general education teachers can jointly plan assessment procedures in order to ensure that their students are progressing.

One way teachers can effectively do this is to evaluate assessment results in order to successfully engage their struggling ELLs. One major question teachers should ask when planning assessments jointly is: “Do all students fit the definition of struggling ELLs” or more specifically, can all struggling ELL perform all assessment based task?

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