Publications & Resources

Improving the Validity of English Language Learner Assessment Systems

Apr 2010

Mikyung Kim Wolf, Joan L. Herman, and Ronald Dietel

English Language Learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing group of students in American public schools. Drawing from a 3-year research effort funded by the U.S. Department of Education, CRESST has developed a list of five priorities for improving the validity of assessment systems for ELL students. We define validity as the degree to which an assessment system produces accurate information about ELL students’ performance and provides a sound basis for policy decision-making. Our recommendations include improvements in: 1. English Language Proficiency Standards and Assessments, 2. ELL Classification and Reclassification, 3. Content Assessments for ELL Students, 4. ELL Test Accommodations, and 5. Teacher Capacity and ELL Students’ Opportunity to Learn. Recommendations are based on a series of CRESST research reports from the 3-year project and comprehensive input and feedback from state and school district ELL experts and policy makers at the 2009 Council of Chief State School Officers Assessment Conference. Research findings from the project that led to the specific recommendations are described throughout this document (see Appendix A for the list of CRESST reports including the 3-year project research). We conclude with our recommendations for new research and an urgent call to action.

Wolf, M. K., Herman, J. L., & Dietel, R. (2010). Improving the validity of English language learner assessment systems (CRESST Policy Brief No. 10, Full Report). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).