1. Establish two annual measurable achievement objectives for ELL students that explicitly define, measure, and report on the student’s expected progress toward and attainment of ELP.

These requirements brought about significant changes in the states’ ELP tests, and therefore the tests currently used differ in a number of important ways from the pre-NCLB tests (Abedi, 2007; Bauman et al., 2007; Francis and Rivera, 2007; Lara et al., 2007; Rebarbar et al., 2007). First, the new ELP tests are standards based. This means that the first step in the assessment development process is to identify and adopt a set of ELP content standards. Then test specifications are developed to guide test item development in each of the four major language domains (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). Test items are then designed to measure a representative sample of the standards. Although the new ELP tests are not tests of academic content, they are intended to assess the types of language skills required for students to access the core academic content.1 In line with NCLB, the new ELP tests measures both receptive (listening, reading) and expressive (speaking, writing) language proficiency skills and comprehension.2 They also more explicitly link and assess skills related to English as a second language and academic language skills, required to be successful in school (for details on the academic language construct, see Anstrom et al., 2009; Bailey and Heritage, 2008, or Scarcella, 2008).

The new ELP assessments offer different forms of the test for each cluster of grades (e.g., early elementary, later elementary, middle school, high school), which are designed to measure growth in ways that reflect the increasing complexity of given language proficiency levels at different age/grade levels. For example, what constitutes intermediate-level academic oral language skill for a 3rd-grade student may be quite different from that for an 8th-grade student. Pre-NCLB assessments generally clustered large numbers of grade levels together. A last major difference is that, unlike the pre-NCLB tests, the new tests are designed for high-stakes decision making and are treated as secure assessments. These changes in the tests have been judged to represent a significant departure from prior practices (Bauman et al., 2007; Lara et al., 2007; Mathews, 2007; Rebarbar et al., 2007).

STATE ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY TESTS

Development

To develop the tests required by NCLB, the DoEd provided grants under Title VI (Section 6112) of the act. The grants allowed for development, validation, and implementation of ELP assessments and encouraged states to work together in

1

In other words, the assessment should evaluate the language skill (i.e., vocabulary, structure, grammar) needed to access the content of the core academic content standards.

2

We note that there were proficiency assessments in the 1980s that measured skills in these domains, but they were not standards based.



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