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ELL Language Assessment and Related Issues in the K-12 Classroom: An Introduction
Workshop #: CECO-17


This course explores the legal history and politics surrounding language assessment and the different test structures and methods used to assess English language learners. Participants will examine how standardized tests are used to measure language proficiency and academic achievement. With that framework in place, participants will explore how to specifically assess listening, speaking, reading, and writing, both individually and in an integrated fashion. Participants will also examine test taking issues and strategies and will look at how technology can be used in assessment. Special needs students will also be addressed.

Course Objectives: Participants will

  • Understand technical concepts about testing: accountability and standardized achievement tests; normed and criterion-referenced tests; validity and reliability; language proficiency; and authentic/performance-based assessment evaluation.
  • Distinguish among traditional vs other test formats, and will have cognitive knowledge of the key strengths and weaknesses of traditional formats, and key test-taking strategies for ELLs.
  • Identify common characteristics of informal assessments, use a model for organizing classroom assessment, and be familiar with some common types of informal/classroom assessment.
  • Understand the process of creating and evaluating portfolios to assess English Language Learners, and apply rubrics to reading, writing, listening, and speaking tasks.
  • Understand the concept of integration of language skills, and be able to describe common methods of assessing reading, writing, listening and speaking, and a variety of ways of eliciting speech for assessment.

Student Expectations:
This online course is experiential and interactive. Participants will engage in a variety of activities to learn, practice, and apply the skills outlined in the course. This will include workbook exercises, short answers that are reviewed by a moderator, quizzes, observation and analysis of lessons, coaching interactions with a coaching partner that include feedback and analysis of both the lesson and the coaching episode. A final exam is also a part of the course. Participation in all of these areas is necessary for students to successfully complete the course with a passing grade.

Upon completion of the course, students can decide if they would like to receive credit and from which university they would like to receive credit. Please see the Affiliations tab at the top of the main page,, or select How to Obtain Credits under the Obtaining Credits tab within your account.

Class Outline:
Lesson 1
  1a. An Introduction to Language Assessment
  1b. Immigration and the Changing School Population
  1c. Affecting English Language Learners U.S. Legal Mandates
  1d. No Child Left Behind and Adequate Yearly Progress
  1e. Conceptual Frameworks for Assessment
  1f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 2
  2a. Understanding Technical Concepts about Testing
  2b. Norm-Referenced and Criterion-Referenced Tests
  2c. Validity and Reliability
  2d. Language Proficiency
  2e. Lesson 2e Evaluation
  2f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 3
  3a. Constructing Standardized Language Proficiency Tests for ELL
  3b. Commercial tests
  3c. State tests
  3d. International tests
  3e. Implications for Classroom Instruction
  3f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 4
  4a. Choosing between Traditional and Performance-Based Measures
  4b. Multiple-Choice (MC) Tests: the Pluses and the Minuses
  4c. Other Common Formats for Traditional Testing
  4d. Cloze and Dictation
  4e. Test-Taking Strategies
  4f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 5
  5a. Types of Classroom and Performance-Based Assessment
  5b. Collecting Performance-Based and Other Classroom Assessments
  5c. Assessment of Process
  5d. Assessment of Products and Classroom Measure
  5e. Assessment of Decontexualized Measures
  5f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 6
  6a. Themes That Have Been Addressed in CBI Curricula
  6b. Criteria for Theme Selection
  6c. Learning Content and Language through "Multiple Exposures"
  6d. An Example of Exploitability in a Topic
  6e. Theme Selection in a Sustained Content Course in Guinea
  6f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 7
  7a. Rubrics
  7b. Creating Rubrics
  7c. Holistic vs. Analytic and Primary Trait Rubrics
  7d. Generic or Task-Specific Rubrics?
  7e. Proficiency Rubrics
  7f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 8
  8a. Assessing Listening
  8b. Assessing Listening in Isolation
  8c. Assessing Listening in Context
  8d. Listening Comprehension Tasks, Part I
  8e. Listening Comprehension Tasks, Part 2
  8f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 9
  9a. Assessing Speaking Skills
  9b.Using Rubrics to Assess Speaking
  9c. Assessing Pronunciation and Intonation
  9d. Common Modes of Eliciting Speech
  9e. Other Sources for Assessing Speech
  9f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 10
  10a. Assessing Reading
  10b. Assessing Reading Comprehension, Part I
  10c. Assessing Reading Comprehension, Part II
  10d. Assessing Microskills
  10e. Assessing Macroskills
  10f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 11
  11a. Assessing Writing
  11b. What to Write about and How Long to Write (Timed Writings or Not?)
  11c. Holistic Scoring Rubrics
  11d.Analytic Scoring Rubrics
  11e. Assessing Grammar, Vocabulary, and Conventions of Writing
  11f. Supplementary Material

Lesson 12
  12a. Other Related Issues
  12b. Technology
  12c. Special Needs Students
  12d. Issues That Affect Assessment
  12e. Final Summary
  12f. Supplementary Material

Final Exam

Contact Information: or 425-788-7275 ext 104


Graduate credit is available after course completion for an additional fee from various universities.

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