Best practices in state assessment policies for English language learners: A Delphi study

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Acosta, Barbara D.; Rivera, Charlene; Willner, Lynn. S.
Institutional Author
George Washington University, Center for Equity and Excellence in Education
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Published Date
11-24-2015 2:54 PM
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Charged by the U.S. Department of Education, The George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education (GW-CEEE) developed a Guide for state education agencies (SEAs) to use to improve state assessment policies for accommodating English language learners (ELLs). As a foundation for the Guide, GW-CEEE designed two studies, the Descriptive Study and the Best Practices Study. For the Descriptive Study GW-CEEE reviewed state assessment policies and examined the number and types of accommodations specified for ELLs (Shafer Willner, Rivera, & Acosta, 2008). The Best Practices Study involved the application of a Delphi technique to obtain consensus from an expert panel about which accommodations identified in the Descriptive Study were ELL-responsive. Members of the panel, which included experts knowledgeable about research, policy and practice in the areas of assessment, psychometrics, language testing, second language acquisition, and instruction of ELLs, relied on professional judgment to vet a list of ELL-responsive accommodations and then mapped these accommodations to English language proficiency (ELP) levels and to selected student background variables. The expert panel concluded with recommendations for states to consider when refining policy for the accommodation of ELLs. Recommendations from the Best Practices Study build on the emerging research base and, together with recommendations from the Descriptive Study, provide the basis for the development of the "Guide for Refining State Assessment Policies for Accommodating English Language Learners": (1) Screen accommodations for ELL-responsiveness; (2) Standardize and clearly describe accommodations; (3) Distinguish between test administration practices and accommodations; (4) Offer accommodations for ELLs at each English language proficiency level; and (5) Offer accommodations for ELLs with different levels of literacy in English and the native language. (Contains 1 figure and 9 tables.)
English Learners
English Learners
Administration and Leadership