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English Language Learners

This paper is intended to accomplish a complete assessment of proficiency of English language test in accomplishing the purpose it is meant to do. A critical analysis of proficiency of English learners will be done as well as a recommendation on what is needed in order to achieve the required effectiveness.  Among the other things that will be accomplished in this paper are the five assessment formats which are usually looked at as alternatives. The important features of each assessment test will be identified as well as there limitations and advantages. Some of the most awaited questions will also be answered for instance whether the standardized assessment tests and language proficiency are good monitors of students progress.

Currently schools are working on reforms which are meant to efficiently analyze the academic progress of all its student fraternity. This assessment is aimed at improving the performance of all students. The main challenge lies on the fact that traditional methods for carrying out this analysis eliminate foreign students whose first language is not English. For these reason many students who are English language learners do not pass these tests and as a result they miss out on academic opportunities as the impact of the assessment test. There are a number of assessment test but this paper will be restricted to only one type. An assessment portfolio is what will be extensively discussed in this essay. By definition an assessment portfolio can be explained as a collection of student works in a systematic manner after which measurement are carried out basing on the scoring criteria that is already predetermined. Basically this portfolio may be made in a way that it includes the written samples as an illustration of available genres as well as assessments which are considered to be performance based (Carrasquillo, Kucer & Abrams, 2004).

Among the types of assessment portfolios are the district based portfolio which contains a wide range of information. For instance a district portfolio usually contains commercially developed scores as well as the norm-referenced tests that are considered to be nationally. Among other important information on such type of assessments is the students’ background when it comes to education.  One of the main advantages of assessment portfolio is that it was designed in a way that English language learners were not left behind. This is necessary since discrimination which was being witnessed in offering learning opportunities has greatly been reduced. Therefore with this portfolio no student is excluded on the basis of language and nationality. The inclusion of English learner’s student in this program has played a major role in ensuring proper assessment. Therefore there is increased accountability and availability of accurate information on the performance and progress of students. Since a wide range of information is available in assessment portfolio it has become easy to identify student needs which when effectively handled will help in improving performance.

As a result of this new system the needs of English language learners will also be met. Inclusion of English language learners in the assessment system makes it easy to have an inclusive or shared goal. When the expectations from the different person are well assessed it’s possible to come up with a shared vision which is essential for attaining the school’s objective. By including parents, administrators and the English language learners in the program it’s possible to come up with an education that includes the community values and purposes. Another advantage of using this type of system is that it’s possible to measure any visible skill. This is possible if a predetermined criterion for scoring is in place. Moreover this portfolio is designed to include the capabilities of all students (Carrasquillo, Kucer and Abrams, 2004).

Other advantages of assessment portfolio include better teaching as well as learning. A portfolio that includes English language learners contributes positively to student learning as well as teaching. By using this portfolio the likelihood of teachers using model which is learner based is very high and through this students feel motivated to take part in whatever is being taught. Also students become more responsible with their studies than before and this plays an important role in improving performance. From such experiences teachers are able to tell the students work which meets certain achievements basing on the criteria used to measure performance. One of the main challenges of this form of assessment is reduced reliability and comparability. This comes about as a result of the set portfolios failing to effectively translate into a set of scores. It’s very difficult to interpret multiple scores because many schools have been accustomed to translate single scores. Therefore comparing scores of different schools becomes challenging when a multiple form of system is used.

Another challenge is that it’s difficult to put an assessment portfolio that meets all the essential needs of various schools. For accountability to be attained its important for a specified agreement to be reached. This agreement is necessary for developing high test evaluators. The challenge facing implementation of assessment portfolio is the restriction which has been put by the law. For example some states have been prohibited by the government to implement portfolio in performance assessments. There is some kind of biasness which comes in as a result of using portfolio thus limiting its effectiveness. It’s very costly to design and implement a portfolio as a performance assessment system. There are many dilemmas that came as a result of using portfolio. For instance the whole process becomes more tiring and time consuming. The work to be done by teachers greatly multiples when English language learners are included in the program (Deiner, 2009).

The standardized tests and language proficiency methods have failed in reducing the achievement score gaps and as a result the associated people are out to look for methods that are more proficient. For these reasons the teachers are convinced that rebalancing of the assessment priorities will bring the much awaited change. Research that has been continuously carried out indicates that assessment practices that are implemented by teachers yield much fruits than the standardized ones. This method also enables students to learn faster than normally. It is widely acceptable that students get their motivation from the teacher’s assessments after which the student decides whether they will make it or fail. Some of the aspects that must be put in place to achieve the set goals are motivating those students who are low performers. This can be achieved by building their hope as well as self confidence (Stiggins and Chappuis, 2005).

Raised self worth of students is what grants them hope of becoming better if not best performers. Effective classroom assessment is important for students to cage their own performance. It’s believed that a slight improvement awakens confidence and hope in students who had initially given up and as a result better performance can be achieved. This process believes in some concepts which follow each other systematically for instance achievements brings confidence which in turn instills the belief that a student has the ability to learn. This form of assessment solely focuses on the classroom teacher as a mediator between the desired effectiveness and the form of assessment.

Most students loose motivation because of such assessment systems. This system holds schools accountable for the poor student’s performance. This trend is dated back to 1940s and the first restrictions were the college tests. This was followed by state assessment of schools. The consequence of this was continued poor performance. Depending on the students performance one will either be promoted or retained in the class they were in. Those who came with this system thought that students will be compelled to work smartly but that was not the cases because school dropouts greatly increased. There was a drastic reduction in the number of graduating students due to this assessment. The impacts of this system were immeasurable due to the increased number of low achievers who as a consequence ended up believing that they cannot be higher achievers by any chance (Stiggins and Chappuis, 2005).

For these reason for any improved performance there was need for student involved classroom assessment. This is a system that allows students to be partners in the assessment process and as a result they are able to monitor their performance. This process demands for carefully management which is to be done by the teacher in helping students determine how their work is to be judged. Through such a practice a student is in a position to identify his strengths as well as weakness and ones this is successfully done one is able to put a lot of emphasis to his work in order to make the necessary achievements. This practice also helps students to understand the vision that their teachers have for them. One of the positive aspects of this assessment system is that there are no excuses and surprises from students and as a result trust and confidence is built. Students are also able to monitor their performance through personal assessments. Research has shown that this method greatly helps low achievers though at the end it reduces the gap between best and low performers (Deiner, 2009).

This form of assessment was designed for those schools which have made poor performance to be their tradition. This assessment is supposed to be integrated in the daily learning and teaching process. Another type of assessment is the work sample based performance assessment. This kind of system has proved quality performance when compared to the standardized test. Some areas in which teachers can positively influence students include development of self confidence in mastering subjects like mathematics. This is important because most of the times students appear to have formed negative attitudes towards this subject. For these reason teachers have the ability to encourage low performers that they can successfully learn mathematics.

From the different assessments test that have been discussed it’s clear that there is hope for poor performers to improve and this can be achieved through a number of ways. Teachers play an important role in coming up with initiatives which can encourage those students who have never experienced success. Student based assessments are encouraged since they enable the student to become part of the awaited success. This brings about ownership which is a good way of keeping one motivated even during the low times. Teachers are encouraged to inform their student that failure is inevitable and part of the success only when they don’t quit. For this reason little progress is supposed to yield hope for the needed results. Incorporation of English language learners in the assessment process is important in eliminating the discrimination which has been adopted in the learning students. Students need to be motivated and encouraged to learn therefore, a program that recognizes and meets their need is essential for improved performance (Stiggins and Chappuis, 2005).

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