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Determination of eligibility for placement in specific language programs (e.g., bilingual education or English as a second language [ESL])

Monitoring of progress in and readiness to exit from special language service programs

Uses of assessment that extend beyond English-language learners include the following:

Placement in categorically funded education programs, such as special education, gifted and talented, and Title I programs

Placement in remedial or advanced academic course work

Monitoring of achievement in compliance with school district and/or state-level assessment programs

Certification for high school graduation and determination of academy mastery at graduation

In addition, the federal government sponsors a variety of assessments, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, to measure the performance and progress of U.S. students. Additional discussion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress and other large-scale assessments in relation to English-language learners is included in Chapter 9.

The remainder of this section begins by looking at issues of validity and reliability associated with student assessment. The next two subsections review uses of assessment that are unique to English-language learners and issues involved in assessing language proficiency. This is followed by two subsections that examine uses of assessment that extend beyond English-language learners and those associated with the assessment of subject matter knowledge. One additional set of assessment issues is then explored—those associated with assessing special populations, including very young second-language learners and English-language-learners with disabilities. The chapter ends with a discussion of standards-based reform and its implications for the design and conduct of student assessments.

Validity and Reliability Issues

It is essential that those using any assessment impacting children's education strive to meet standards of validity and reliability (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council on Measurement in Education, 1985). Validity concerns whether the inferences drawn from assessment outcomes are appropriate to the purposes of the assessment. It encompasses use of an assessment to measure current achievement and ability relative to specific performance criteria, as well as the potential for future achievement, and to investigate the underlying competencies that theory indicates

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