Publications & Resources

The Validity of Administering Large-Scale Content Assessments to English Language Learners: An Investigation From Three Perspectives

Dec 2005

Jamal Abedi, Alison Bailey, Frances Butler, Martha Castellon-Wellington, Seth Leon and James Mirocha

The research effort reported here addresses the important national need for determining the validity of large-scale content assessments in English with students who are in the process of acquiring English as a second language. Often these students have been excluded from such assessments, but there have been recent, growing efforts to include them. There is, however, considerable variability nationwide in the inclusion process. Within the context of assuring equal educational access for all students, technical issues around validity are being examined from three perspectives. First, the potential impact of student background variables is examined through analyses of extant data from one large city school district and multiple school districts in one large state. Next, a Southern California school district provided data from a controlled research environment, allowing comparison of student performance on a standardized achievement test with concurrent performance on a language proficiency test of reading and writing. Analysis of this data supplement what was learned from the earlier extant data analyses regarding ELL student performance on large-scale content assessments. Finally, CRESST has established evaluation criteria and developed a coding system for identifying language barriers in content tests. Analyses of the language of large-scale content assessments of reading comprehension, science, and math are reported. These data provide information on the potential role of language on test items across content areas. Each of these three perspectives is covered in a separate chapter. In the final chapter, we discuss overall conclusions and recommendations.

Abedi, J., Bailey, A., Butler, F., Castellon-Wellington, M., Leon, S., & Mirocha, J. (2005). The validity of administering large-scale content assessments to English language learners: An investigation from three perspectives (CSE Report 663). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).