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Recommendation: Policy decisions about how individual English-language learners will participate in large-scale assessments—such as the language and accommodations to be used—should balance the demands of political accountability with professional standards of good testing practice. These standards require evidence that such accommodations or alternate forms of assessment lead to valid inferences regarding performance.
Recommendation: States, school districts, and schools should report and interpret disaggregated assessment scores of English-language learners when psychometrically sound for the purpose of analyzing their educational outcomes.
In addition, the role of the test score in decision making needs careful consideration when its meaning is uncertain. For example, invalid low scores on the test may lead to inappropriate placement in treatments that have not been demonstrated to be effective. Multiple sources of information should be used to supplement test score data obtained from large-scale assessment of students who are not language proficient, particularly when decisions will be made about individual students on the basis of the test (American Educational Research Association et al., 1985).
Recommendation: Placement decisions based on tests should incorporate information about educational accomplishments, particularly literacy skills, in the primary language. Certification tests (e.g., for high school graduation) should be designed to reflect state or local deliberations and decisions about the role of English-language proficiency in the construct to be assessed. This allows for subject-matter assessment in English only, in the primary language, or using a test that accommodates English-language learners by providing English-language assistance, primary language support, or both.
Recommendation: As for all learners, interpretation of the test scores of English-language learners for promotion or graduation should be accompanied by information about opportunities to master the material tested. For English-language learners, this includes information about educational history, exposure to instruction in the primary language and in English, language resources in the home, and exposure to the mainstream curriculum.