Publications & Resources

Consequences and Validity of Performance Assessment for English Language Learners: Integrating Academic Language and ELL Instructional Needs into Opportunity to Learn Measures

May 2006

Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, Christy Kim Boscardin, Barbara Jones, Jae-Eun Park, Marjorie Chinen, Hye Sook Shin, Janet Lee, Anastasia Aimee Amabisca and Aprile Benner

To further the understanding of ELL (under) achievement and broaden the current scope of OTL models, the primary focus of this study was to investigate process and content opportunities that are particularly relevant to improving ELL achievement with particular attention to the relationship between opportunities to acquire academic language and ELL achievement. The work reported here operationalized academic language within a systemic functional linguistics theory (also called “functional grammar”). This theory of language use provided teachers and students with a framework for analyzing language in a manner that both built on existing language knowledge (or schemas) and provided them with an accessible structure for examining more complicated language (and content) concept. Based on our literature review, previous findings, and new ELL-sensitive OTL model, we investigated the following research questions in this study: (a.) To what extent and in what ways are students being exposed to key OTL variables in classrooms? (b). What is the impact of academic language and other OTL indicators on ELLs’ and non-ELLs’ performance on LAPA? One of the most important findings from this study points to the need for explicit instruction on academic language. The positive impact of functional grammar implementation on student outcomes also suggests that in order for ELLs to fully benefit from assessment-driven reform, teachers need the capacity to make the linguistic expectations clear to students by focusing on the linguistic elements that are characteristic of academic registers.

Aguirre-Muñoz, Z., Boscardin, C. K., Jones, B., Park, J.-E., Chinen, M., Shin, H. S., … Benner, A. (2006). Consequences and validity of performance assessment for English language learners: Integrating academic language and ELL instructional needs into opportunity to learn measures (CSE Report 678). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).