Publications & Resources

The Impact of Preference for Accommodations: The Performance of English Language Learners on Large-Scale Academic Achievement Tests

Jun 2000

Martha Castellon-Wellington

In an effort to include English language learners (ELLs) in large-scale, content-knowledge assessments, some educators have begun to use accommodations, defined as modifications to a test or to the manner in which a test is administered. To date, however, there is no conclusive evidence that accommodations aid students in demonstrating their content knowledge on standardized tests.

This study investigates the potential role of student preference in the use of accommodations with large-scale assessments and the effects of two test accommodations-providing extra assessment time and reading test items aloud-on the standardized test performance of ELLs in seventh-grade social studies classrooms. Additionally, the study investigates the relationships between the accommodations students prefer and the following background variables: their length of time in the United States, amount of education prior to arrival in the United States, and English language proficiency.

Students completed a background questionnaire and a standardized test in social studies without accommodations. Students then were asked to identify which of two accommodations they preferred. A parallel form of the standardized test was administered with accommodations. One third of the students received the accommodation of their preference, a third received the accommodation not of their preference, and a third received one of the two accommodations at random.

Data analysis found that students did not significantly improve their performance on the accommodated test with either accommodation, even when given their preferred accommodation. Data analysis also found no significant relationships between accommodation preference and various background variables.

Castellon-Wellington, M. (2000). The impact of preference for accommodations: The performance of English language learners on large-scale academic achievement tests (CSE Report 524). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).