TESOL Standard 4.a: Candidates demonstrate understanding of assessment issues as they affect ELLs, such as accountability, bias, special education testing, language proficiency, and accommodations in formal testing situations.
The article I chose for Standard 4.a was my NYSESLAT Analysis, developed for my ESC 761 course. The NYSESLAT is given to English Language Learners in order to determine their placement in terms of English Language comprehension. The NYSESLAT, while laudable in its goal of proper classification, is considered to be controversial, mainly because of the amount of testing hours ELLs are subjected to. My NYESLAT analysis investigates the reasoning and skepticism behind this test (as well as other ELL assessments), along with how I utilize the evaluation in my own classroom.
By delving into the common issues with ELL testing through this artifact, I am demonstrating understanding of assessment issues as they affect ELLs. One issue I discovered by conducting my research was that English language learners are being tested after only a few years of residence in the United States. Moreover, in New York, there is a small window in which student are taking a multitude of tests; this pressure leads to a sense of helplessness amongst are ELLs.
Because I understand the particular issues and biases regarding ELLs that stem from high-stakes testing, I strenuously advocate for my students, ensuring that they receive every modification available for them. New York State testing is so intense that preparing ELLs for the various assessments is almost impossible. There is little connection between the ELA state tests and the NYSESLAT, and while the Math state tests allow for translated texts, there is little regard for cultural specificities in regards to the word problems.
While writing my NYSESLAT analysis, I gained incredible insight into the troubled history of assessing language attainment, and I have used this information to instruct my teaching practice. I try to lower the stress level of my students, and I try to let them know that I value their progress and that their assessment scoring will have no effect on how I honor their language learning success.