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provide accommodations probably led to an increase in the number of English-language learners participating in the test and to gains in performance. However, the study concluded that the effects of the accommodations are uncertain, and that they may not work as intended (Shepard et al., 1998b).
Teachers should regularly and frequently administer assessments, including assessments of English-language proficiency, for the purpose of monitoring the progress of English-language learners and for adapting instruction to improve performance.
States and districts should develop clear guidelines for accommodations that permit English-language learners to participate in assessments administered for accountability purposes. Especially important are clear decision rules for determining the level of English-language proficiency at which English-language learners should be expected to participate exclusively in English-language assessments.
Students should be assessed in the language that permits the most valid inferences about the quality of their academic performance. When numbers are sufficiently large, states and districts should develop subject-matter assessments in languages other than English.
English-language learners should be exempted from assessments only when there is evidence that the assessment, even with accommodations, cannot measure the knowledge or skill of particular students or groups of students.
States and districts should describe the methods they use to screen English-language learners for accommodations, exemptions, and alternate assessments, and they should report the frequency of these practices.
Federal research units, foundations, and other funding agencies should promote research that advances knowledge about the validity and reliability of different accommodation, exemption, and alternate assessment practices for English-language learners.
Questions to Ask
Are valid and reliable measures used to evaluate the level of students' proficiency in English?
Are clear guidelines in place for accommodations that permit English-language learners to participate in assessments administered for accountability