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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Assessment processes, tools, and resources

The assessment process refers to the ongoing cycle of assessment undertaken over the school year. It includes the use of formal and informal tools and involves reporting at key stages in the school year to all relevant stakeholders including learners, families, teachers, school management, and the Ministry of Education.

Assessment frequently involves initial diagnostic and placement assessment that feeds into ongoing assessment over students’ school careers.

Consider the following questions before assessing:

  • What do I need to know?
  • Why do I need it?
  • How and when will I get the information I need?
  • What will I do with the information?
  • What do I need to notice? (overall organisation, cohesion, grammar, syntax, sentence structure, punctuation, vocabulary, spelling, clarity, fluency and so on)
  • How will this information be used to inform my teaching?

Primary

Diagnostic and placement assessment

At primary school level it is often best to delay any formal initial assessment activities for some weeks to allow new English language learners time to settle in and begin to understand the routines and expectations of the school and classroom. Whilst it is not best practice to assess students within a short time of arrival, it is sometimes unavoidable. In this situation the judgments made should be reviewed at a later date. Whenever possible, the classroom teacher should carry out the testing.

Types of initial assessments

The ESOL Funding Assessment Guidelines has examples of various initial diagnostic assessments. Such assessments might include:

  • a writing sample – referenced against ELLP, other assessments could include a record of written vocabulary, ability to write upper and lower case letters, word boundaries and basic punctuation. More than one writing sample may be collected, for example, writing on a very familiar topic and on something related to a curriculum area.
  • reading assessments – teachers can assess comprehension and, if necessary, decoding. Assessments might include informal prose inventories while taking a running record, cloze activities. Refer to Assessment tools for appropriate assessment tools.
  • a speaking assessment – often a short interview, which will also enable you to find out about the student's learning background listening assessments. Other assessments might include dictations, listen and draw activities, records of oral vocabulary, records of oral texts, or discussing a picture.
  • a listening assessment – responding to spoken language, how much can the student hear, retain, and retell. Other assessments might include records of oral language, responses to spoken instructions non-verbally (for example, pointing or drawing) or retelling an oral text.
  • an assessment of vocabulary knowledge – assessments might include records of written vocabulary and records of dictated texts. Vocabulary word level tests might be used with older students. Refer to  Assessment tools for appropriate assessment tools.

In addition, with foundation students, teachers may want to assess alphabet knowledge and letter sound correspondence.

Overall teacher judgment to determine ELLP matrix placement

Once data is gathered it is necessary to refer to the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) matrices. Placing students on the ELLP matrices requires taking a best fit approach and making an overall teacher judgment.

The student’s achieved ELLP stages are then used to apply for MOE ESOL funding.

The videos in the ELLP professional support modules support teachers to make overall teacher judgments.

Ongoing assessment

Assessment is an ongoing process and data will continue to be gathered and stored after initial assessment. This data will be used to inform further reporting to stakeholders at key points in the school year including learners, families, school management, and the Ministry of Education. Usually examples of student work and assessments will be collated in a student portfolio.

Continuing students at a school will have a growing body of work, in learning English and other subjects, that can be used to determine progress and learning needs. It is good practice to involve classroom teachers in making cross-curricular judgments about student performance.

All teacher judgments will be referenced to the ELLP matrices stages.

Twice a year, teachers will also need to report English language learners progress and achievement in relation to the Literacy and Numeracy National Standards. As many English language learners will initially be below the expectations of National Standards, it is recommended that schools also report in relation to the English Language Learning Progressions.

The ELLP booklets provide guidance as to appropriate next learning steps for English language learners working at each stage of the matrices.

Effective assessment in the classroom will identify barriers to learning of ELLs so that teachers can address their particular needs. Teachers and students together should identify specific language learning goals to work towards.  

Also see (from Down the Back of the Chair):

  • Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1 to 4 (pp. 61–69) Pages 61–69 – analysing and using assessment information 
  • Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8 (pp. 62–71) Pages 66–71 – analysing and using assessment information

Secondary

Diagnostic assessment and decision making

Whilst it is not best practice to assess students within a short time of arrival, it is sometimes unavoidable. Judgments for newly arrived students often have to be made using observation and assessments in ESOL classrooms and revised at a later date if necessary. Such assessments might include:

  • a writing sample – referenced against ELLP
  • reading assessments – teachers can assess comprehension and, if necessary, decoding. Refer to Assessment tools for appropriate assessment tools.
  • a speaking assessment – often a short interview, which will also enable you to find out about the student's learning background listening assessments. Other assessments might include dictations or listen and draw activities.
  • assessment of vocabulary knowledge – refer to Assessment tools for appropriate assessment tools.

In addition, with foundation students, teachers may want to assess alphabet knowledge and letter sound correspondence.

Once data is gathered it is necessary to refer to the ELLP matrices. Placing students on the ELLP matrices requires taking a best fit approach and making an overall teacher judgment. The videos in the ELLP professional support modules support teachers to make overall teacher judgments.

Ongoing assessment

Assessment is an ongoing process and data will continue to be gathered and stored after initial assessment. This data will be used to inform further reporting to stakeholders at key points in the school year, including learners, families, school management, and the Ministry of Education

Continuing students at a school will have a growing body of work, in ESOL and other subjects, that can be used to determine progress and learning needs. It is good practice to involve mainstream teachers in making judgments about student performance.

All teacher judgments will be referenced to the ELLP matrices. However ongoing assessment in the senior high school will also reference the qualification pathway that individual students are following.

Published on: 03 Jun 2015




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