Publications & Resources

Issues in Assessing English Language Learners: English Language Proficiency Measures and Accommodation Uses–Literature Review

Jan 2008

Mikyung Kim Wolf, Jenny C. Kao, Joan L. Herman, Lyle F. Bachman, Alison L. Bailey, Patina L. Bachman, Tim Farnsworth, and Sandy M. Chang

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has made a great impact on states’ policies in assessing English language learner (ELL) students. The legislation requires states to develop or adopt sound assessments in order to validly measure the ELL students’ English language proficiency (ELP), as well as content knowledge and skills. Although states have moved rapidly to meet these requirements, they face challenges to validate their current assessment and accountability systems for ELL students, partly due to the lack of resources. Considering the significant role of assessments in guiding decisions about organizations and individuals, it is of paramount importance to establish a valid assessment system. In light of this, we reviewed the current literature and policy regarding ELL assessment in order to inform practitioners of the key issues to consider in their validation processes. We developed a set of guidelines and recommendations for practitioners to use as a resource to improve their ELL assessment systems. We have compiled a series of three reports. This report is the first component of the series, containing pertinent literature related to assessing ELL students. The areas being reviewed include validity theory, the construct of ELP assessments, and the effects of accommodations in the assessment of ELL students’ content knowledge.

Wolf, M. K., Kao, J. C., Herman, J. L., Bachman, L. F., Bailey, A. L., Bachman, P. L., … Chang, S. M. (2008). Issues in assessing English language learners: English language proficiency measures and accommodation uses–Literature review (CRESST Report 731). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).