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					               Book 3:

Use of Accommodations in
Large-Scale Assessments

Practical Guidelines for the Education of
English Language Learners
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 Practical Guidelines for the Education of
       English Language Learners
     David J. Francis, Mabel Rivera
             Center on Instruction English Language Learners Strand
             Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics
             University of Houston

     Nonie K. Lesaux, Michael J. Kieffer
             Graduate School of Education
             Harvard University

     Héctor Rivera
             Center on Instruction English Language Learners Strand
             Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics
             University of Houston
  Practical Guidelines for the Education of
        English Language Learners
Research-based Recommendations for Instruction and
   Academic Interventions
Research-based Recommendations for Serving Adolescent
Research-based Recommendations for the Use of
   Accommodations in Large-scale Assessments
Book 3: Use of Accommodations in
Large-Scale Assessments
                Accommodations and Review of State
                    Conceptual Framework
                    Use of Accommodations
                Meta-Analysis on Effectiveness of
                Accommodations in Assessment
                    Selected studies for analysis
                Technical Appendices
               Seminal Research Reviews
Rivera, C., Collum, E., Shafner Willner, L., & Sia, J. K. (2006). An
    analysis of state assessment policies regarding the accommodation of
    English language learners. In C. Rivera and E. Collum (Eds.), State
    assessment policy and practice for English language learners: A
    national perspective (pp. 1-173). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Abedi, J., Hofstetter, C., & Lord, C. (2004). Assessment accommodations
   for English language learners: Implications for policy-based empirical
   research. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 1-28.
Sireci, S., Li, S., & Scarpati, S. (2003). The effect of test accommodation
    on test performance: A review of the literature (Research Report No.
    495). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts School of Education,
    Center for Educational Assessment.
          Who are
English Language Learners?

• National-origin-minority students with
    limited proficiency of English;
•   Heterogeneous;
•   Membership defined by limited proficiency
    in English language use, which directly
    affects learning and assessment;
•   Membership is expected to be temporary.
  Large population              Spanish
                                                        Largest growth
 One of the fastest-                                Largest and fastest
growing groups            More than 400             growing ELL groups:
among school-aged        different home
children in U.S.         languages; Spanish         •Students who
                         predominant (70%)          immigrated before
 More than 9 million                                Kindergarten
students, roughly 5.5                               • U.S. born children
million of whom are                                 of immigrants
classified as Limited
English Proficient
               By 2015, second-generation children of immigrants
              are expected to be 30% of the school-aged population
            Learning challenges
ELLs face unique learning challenges:
  •   to develop the content-related knowledge and
      skills defined by state standards;
      •   while simultaneously acquiring a second (or third)
          language ;
      •   at a time when their first language is not fully
          developed (e.g., young children);
  •   to demonstrate their learning on assessments in
      English, their second language.
     ELL Performance Outcomes
•   Some states have begun to look at the
    performance of ELLs on state tests after they have
    gained proficiency in English.
• Although some reclassified ELLs do well, many
    students who have lost the formal LEP designation
    continue to struggle with:
    • academic text;
    • content-area knowledge; and
    • oral language skills.
   Current Policy
Academic Achievement
     English Language Learners
   and the No Child Left Behind Act

ELLs present unique challenges to:
  • Teachers,
  • Administrators,
  • Assessment systems, and
  • Accountability systems.
         English Language Learners
       and the No Child Left Behind Act
 •   High standards of learning and instruction for all
 •   English Language Learners one of five areas of
     concentration to advance student achievement;
 •   Increased awareness of the academic needs and
     achievement of ELLs;
 •   Schools, districts, and states held accountable for
     teaching English and content knowledge to ELLs.
      English Language Learners
    and the No Child Left Behind Act

Under NCLB, state education agencies are
held accountable for the progress of ELLs
in two ways:
•   Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) expectations
    for reading and mathematics under Title I, and
•   Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives
    (AMAO) under Title III, demonstrating
    satisfactory progress in learning English and
    attaining English proficiency.
Academic Performance Indicators for ELLs
 On 4th grade National Assessment of Educational
 Progress (NAEP), ELLs were:
 •   only1/4 as likely to score proficient or above in Reading as
     their native English speaking peers, and
 •   only 1/3 as likely to score proficient or above in Math as
     their native English-speaking peers.

 Compared with native English-speaking peers, ELLs
 with a formal LEP designation are less likely to score
 “proficient” on state tests.
ELLs Taking Large-Scale
 Participation and Valid
          ELL Participation Rates
•   NCLB recognizes the importance of high participation to gain
    information about achievement and proficiency rates for this
    subgroup of learners.
•   ELLs are participating in large-scale assessments at much
    higher rates than in the past.
•   This raises awareness of the academic needs and academic
    achievement of ELLs as a distinct population.
•   Assessment results can be vital indicators of school
    performance and efficacy in serving specific subgroups.
    ELLs & Large-Scale Assessments

•   It is not enough simply to have ELLs participate in
    large-scale assessments; participation must lead to
    valid inferences about their achievement and the
    effectiveness of educational programming.
•   Valid assessments are needed to inform instruction
    and program design: They provide detailed
    knowledge of ELL students’ weaknesses and
 Large-Scale Assessments Used with ELLs

• National Assessment of Educational Progress
• State assessments of academic content;
• State assessments of language proficiency.
              NAEP Assessment
•   The only “nationally representative and continuing
    assessment” of subject area knowledge of U.S.
•   Does not score individual students or schools, but
    now allows some state-by-state comparison;
•   NCLB requires some schools to participate in NAEP
    grade 4 and 8 reading and math.

              (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2007)
State Assessments of Language Proficiency
•   NCLB requires annual assessment of ELLs’ English language
    proficiency with assessments aligned to K-12 ELP
    standards. These must include the 4 language domains:
    • Speaking and listening;
    • Reading and writing.
•   State ELP standards must align to the academic content
    standards and the challenging academic achievement
    standards set by the state for all students.
                                    (General Accounting Office, 2006)
    State Assessments of Academic Content

• Based on federally-mandated, state-defined
•   Selected or developed by each state, with
    guidance from the U.S. Department of
    Education, Office of Elementary and
    Secondary Education.
            (August & Piche, 2002; General Accounting Office, 2006)
Content Knowledge & Language Proficiency
•   ELLs must direct more cognitive resources to processing the
    language of the test compared with fully English proficient
•   Assessments with the most linguistically challenging content
    show the largest performance gaps between ELLs and native
    English speakers. This is true for all domains, including math.
•   ELLs may also lack background knowledge that is central to
    understanding content, but may not be related to actual content

     Effective accommodations allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of a
     concept by minimizing language obstacles without invalidating the assessment.
                State Policies
• Educational agencies across the nation
    provide accommodations to ELLs as needed;
•   The criteria for selection and strategies for
    implementation vary by state, according to
    many factors.
               State Policies
Rivera and colleagues (2006)

     A comprehensive taxonomy for thinking about
     accommodations, both direct and indirect
     linguistic support accommodations.
States Must Improve Accountability, Assessment, and
        Alignment for Education of ELLs

•   Schools are accountable for educational quality, both to those who
    fund them and to those whom they serve.

•   External assessment (state and district tests) and classroom
    assessment are intended to both reflect educational quality and
    enhance it.

•   There should be a match between external standards for quality and
    curricula and classroom practices (Menken, 2000).
       Validity of Academic Knowledge
            Assessments for ELLs

• ELLs must direct more cognitive resources to
    processing the language of the test compared
    with fully English proficient students;
•   ELLs may also lack relevant background
    knowledge that is central to understanding
    content, but may not be related to actual content
     Validity of Academic Knowledge
          Assessments for ELLs

Using accommodations during testing may improve
•   These would control for language and cultural factors.

Valid assessments are also useful for instruction and
program design.
•   They provide detailed knowledge of ELL students’ weaknesses and

                              (Francis et al., 2006)
 Consequences of Invalid Assessment

• Does not inform the design of effective
  programs and curricula;.
• May undermine quality and
  appropriateness of individual placement
  and instruction;
• May limit a student’s academic
            Possible Consequences
          of High Stakes Assessment
• For schools performing poorly:
  •   Federal funds withheld;
  •   Schoolwide restructuring;
  •   Student transfers allowed;
  •   Teachers or administrators unrewarded.
• For students performing poorly:
  •   Additional resources, tutoring, supplemental
      services and school choice options.
  (August & Piche, 2002; Coltrane, 2002; Abedi et al., 2003; Francis, 2006)
  Effective Accommodations
for ELLs Taking Large-Scale
    What are accommodations?
Encompass changes to standard test
administration procedures, including:
•   How the assessment is presented to the student;
•   How the student is allowed to respond;
•   Any equipment or materials to be used;
•   Extent of time allowed to complete the test; and
•   Changes to the environment in which the student
    takes the test.
    Test Accommodations for ELLs
•   Use of accommodations during testing may
    improve validity of inferences based on test results.

•   For ELLs participating in large-scale tests,
    accommodations are modifications to the test or
    testing conditions designed to reduce the impact of
    limited English proficiency on the assessment of the
    target academic skill.
    Test Accommodations for ELLs

•   Criteria for selection and strategies for
    implementation vary by state.
•   Appropriate accommodations will address
    ELLs’ linguistic needs either:
    • directly (e.g., language in test) or
    • indirectly (e.g., increased time to process
    Types of Accommodations for ELLs
Modification of the testing conditions:
•    Special scheduling, setting, or extended time;
•    Use of tools such as bilingual or English dictionaries or glossaries.*
Modification of the test:
•    Directions or items may be read aloud in English or in native language;
     may be bilingual, native language, or simplified English version of test;*
•    Response options: response in native language; dictated response.*

*Targets language
        Characteristics of Appropriate
Take the student’s background into account:
•   Native language literacy, if test is to be written in native language;
•   Familiarity with the accommodation from classroom use, as with
    prior use of dictionaries;
•   Language of assessment and language of instruction need to match.

Their use in combination must be guided by a
specific rationale:
•   For example, use of dictionaries and extended time are a reasonable
       Partial List of Accommodations
        Responsive to Needs of ELLs
Accommodations of                         Accommodations as Test
  Testing Conditions                         • Directions read in English
  •   Extended time*                         • Directions read in native
  •   Breaks offered between                   •    Directions translated into
      sessions                                      native language
                                               •    Simplified English*
  •   Bilingual glossaries*                    •    Side-by-side bilingual
  •   Bilingual dictionaries*
                                                    version of the test*
                                                    Native language test*
  •   English glossaries*                      •    Dictation of answers or use
  •   English dictionaries*
                                                    of a scribe
                                                    Test taker responds in native
         * Denotes the accommodations examined in the meta-analysis
Effective Accommodations for ELLs:
     Results of a Meta-Analysis

     Research Findings
   What is a Meta-Analysis?

A meta-analytic review is a specific
approach to research synthesis that
attempts to quantify the effect of an
intervention from a set of comparable
      Preliminary Research
We examined the effect of 8 types of
accommodations which, alone or
combined, affected the performance of
ELLs in large-scale assessments of
   Most Common Accommodations
         for ELLs (GAO, 2006)
             Accommodation                Number of states
Bilingual dictionary                            32
Reading items aloud in English                  32
Small-group administration                      29
Extra time                                      27
Individual administration                       27
Separate location                               25
Extra breaks                                    25
Directions in student’s native language         24
    Effective Accommodations for ELLs:
         Results of a Meta-Analysis
11 studies in total:
•    Each study randomly assigned ELLs and non-
     ELLs to testing conditions with and without
•    Involved 37 different samples of students;
•    Reported 37 different tests of the effectiveness of
     accommodations for ELLs.
         Study Descriptions
Grades included:
•   11 studies with 4th graders;
•   22 studies with 8th graders;
•   2 studies with 5th graders;
•   2 studies with 6th graders.
Subject Areas:
•   17 studies tested math skills;
•   19 studies tested science skills;
•   1 study tested reading skills.
      Study Descriptions (cont’d)
Type of test
•   22 studies examined items from the National
    Assessment of Educational Performance (NAEP);
•   6 studies examined items from the NAEP and the
    Trends in International Mathematics and Science
    Study (TIMSS);
•   9 studies examined items from State
    Accountability Assessments (two different
Seven Accommodations Studied
•   Simplified English              (15 studies)
•   English dictionary/glossary     (11 studies)
•   Bilingual dictionary/glossary   (5 studies)
•   Extra time                      (2 studies)
•   Spanish language test           (2 studies)
•   Dual language questions         (1 study)
•   Dual language booklet           (1 study)
Simplified English
  Involves linguistic changes in the vocabulary and
  grammar of test items to eliminate irrelevant
  complexity while keeping the content the same.
  • Some changes may be effected by eliminating non-
     content related vocabulary, shortening sentences,
     simplifying sentence structures where possible, using
     familiar or frequently used words, active instead of
     passive voice, and using present verb tense where
English dictionary/glossary
     Involves adding definitions or simple paraphrases
     for potentially unfamiliar or difficult words in test
     booklets (usually on the margins).
     • A variation on this accommodation is to provide
        computerized tests with built-in English glossaries.
        Typically, this latter variation involves a computer
        program that provides a simple and item-appropriate
        synonym for each difficult non-content word in a test.
Bilingual dictionary/glossary
  ELLs are given access to dictionaries,
  glossaries, and marginal glossaries with words
  written in English and the student’s native
  •   Another version of this accommodation uses
      computerized tests with built-in bilingual glossaries.
Extra time
•   Providing more time than usual to complete test sections is
    among the most frequently used accommodations.
•   This accommodation does not change the test itself, but the
    testing conditions.
•   Extended time is usually provided in combination with
    other accommodations.
•   The rationale is to allow ELLs extra time to process the
    language of the test, or when bundling extra time with
    another accommodation, such as an English language
    dictionary, to allow time to use the other accommodation.
Native language test
•   Typically, text is not translated, but adapted to preserve the
    meaning of the original text.
•   The most preferred method of adapting a test to another
    language is to use back translation:
    •   First a proficient speaker, reader, and writer of both languages
        translates the original language of the test into the native language;
    •   An independent, bilingually proficient person translates the adapted
        test back into the original language and compares the two original
        language tests for equivalence;
    •   If the two original language versions are deemed to be different, the
        process is repeated, focusing on correcting those areas of the test
        which were not successfully adapted.
Dual-language questions/Dual-language
•   Changes the format of test booklets;
•   Booklets have English items on one page and a
    translation into the learner’s first language on the
    facing page.
Criteria for Evaluating Accommodations
 •   The extent to which the accommodation leads to improved test
     scores for the student.
 •   Controls for the student’s English and for cultural differences,
     but does not alter the target skill being measured;
 •   Accommodation only affects the performance of students who
     need it.
 •   Cost and effort involved in implementing the accommodation.
     Do Accommodations Affect
       Assessment Validity?
Francis et al. (2006) reviewed the research
on the effectiveness of accommodations for
ELLs in large-scale achievement tests.
Method: Using meta-analysis, Francis et al.
quantified the effects of seven different types of
accommodations on the performance of ELLs
(compared with non-ELLs) in tests of math, science,
and reading.
   Do Accommodations Affect
       Assessment Validity?
Francis, et al. (2006)
•   Of the 7 types of accommodations, only English language dictionaries
    and glossaries had overall positive effects on ELL outcomes;
•   Native language tests and bilingual glossaries were sometimes effective,
    but not always;
•   There are too few research studies to draw firm conclusions. The
    effectiveness of a particular accommodation likely depends on how it
    relates to student backgrounds and characteristics, which other
    accommodations were offered, etc. Still, the characteristics of good
    accommodations reviewed above appear valid.
Effective Accommodations

   EXTRA                             SIMPLIFIED
    TIME                              ENGLISH

             DUAL           DUAL
           LANGUAGE       LANGUAGE
           QUESTIONS        TEST
English dictionaries/glossaries
Of the seven types of accommodations used,
only one had an overall positive effect on
ELL outcomes:
English language dictionaries and glossaries
• Produced an average effect—positive and
  statistically different from zero;
• No indication that this effect varied across the
  conditions studied.
Providing English Dictionaries & Glossaries

• Full dictionaries are not typically used;
• Glosses for specific words from the test
    appear on the test page;
•   Separate, abbreviated, alphabetical
    dictionaries are tailored to the test vocabulary.

                                     (Abedi et al., 2001)
Bilingual Dictionaries and L1Tests
• Bilingual dictionary/glossary and Spanish
    language test did not show overall positive
    effects, but showed varying effects for
    different groups of students;
•   Results suggest that L1 accommodations
    might be effective only when ELLs:
    • had received L1 instruction; or
    • are literate in their L1;
• However, more research is necessary.
• Effectiveness of native language tests and
    bilingual glossaries varied;
•   Too few studies to say conclusively why they
    are not effective, but some possible reasons
    •   Language of assessment and language of
        instruction do not match;
    •   Students are not literate in L1.
            Findings (cont’d)
• Results for Simplified English (one of the
  most widely used accommodations) were less
  promising than might have been expected;
• Lack of effects for Simplified English is not
  an indictment of universal design.
           Other Accommodations
•   Based on findings, Simplified English would not be
    judged as an effective accommodation.
    •   However, studies were narrowly focused in terms of
        grades, content areas, and type of assessment.
•   There were two few studies of Extra Time and Dual
    Language Tests to draw any final conclusion.
•   More research is needed to further explore additional
    accommodations in varying conditions.
Research base is limited in important ways:
•   Few studies involve State accountability tests;
•   Few studies in reading and language arts;
•   No accommodation has been studied definitively;
•   Many more accommodations need to be studied;
•   Effects of accommodations need to be studied in
    relation to different conditions, e.g., content
    areas, grade levels, test types, students’
          Important reminders
• ELLs cannot be assumed to be literate in L1.
  • L1 assessments cannot be assumed to offer
    linguistically appropriate accommodations.
• More cannot be assumed to be better.
  • An explicit rationale is needed for combining
    specific accommodations.
    Implications of Preliminary Research
• Alignment of curriculum, instruction, and
     assessment is crucial to the academic success
     of all students;
•    Accommodations alone are not effective in
     creating valid, effective assessment conditions
     for ELLs;
•    For any accommodation to be successful in
     the testing situation, students must have
     experience with it during regular instruction.
    Implications of Preliminary
        Research (cont’d)

Teachers can incorporate the most effective
language accommodation, the use of English
dictionaries and glossaries, into classroom
vocabulary-learning activities.
Academic Language and the
  Importance of Vocabulary
        The Role of Teachers in Using
        Test Accommodations for ELLs
•   For an accommodation to be effective in a testing
    setting, ELLs must be familiar with its use;
•   Teachers can incorporate the most effective language
    accommodation, English dictionaries and glossaries,
    into classroom vocabulary-learning activities;
•   Teaching academic English vocabulary is important
    in all classes at all levels.

                                (Francis et al., 2006)
        The Role of English Vocabulary
            in Academic Learning
•   Vocabulary in academic texts and classroom tasks
    differs from conversational vocabulary;
•   Academic vocabulary is key to learning higher-level
    content and to performing well on achievement tests;
•   ELLs are learning academic English and academic
    subject content simultaneously.

             (Scarcella, 2003; Short & Fitzsimmons, 2006)
       What is Academic Language?
• Vocabulary knowledge:
   • Breadth—knowing the meanings of many words,
       including many words for the same, or related, concepts;
   •   Depth—knowing many meanings, both common and
       uncommon, for a given word;
• Understanding complex sentence structures and syntax;
• Written vocabulary as distinct from oral vocabulary;
• Understanding the structure of argument, academic
   discourse, and expository texts.
    What is Academic Language?
Other aspects of academic language relate to the text
or word problem that is central to the assessment:
•   Organization of expository paragraphs;
•   Function of connectives such as therefore and in contrast;
•   Wide range of vocabulary that appears far more often in text
    than in oral conversation;
•   Specific academic vocabulary—the words necessary to learn
    and talk about academic subjects (analyze, abstract, estimate,
            Academic Language:
        The Key to Academic Success
Developing academic language—
  • fundamental to academic success in all domains;
  • a primary source of ELLs’ difficulties with
     academic content across grades;
  • often a challenge after students achieve
     proficiency on state language proficiency tests;
  • influences ELLs performance on large-scale
            Academic Language:
        The Key to Academic Success

Good conversational English skills may be
accompanied by limited academic language skills:
  Many elementary and middle school students—ELLs,
  reclassified ELLs, and native English speakers—in urban
  schools have academic vocabulary scores around the 20th
  percentile. Scores below the 20th percentile are not
    What Words Should be Taught to ELLs?
• Frequently used English words: may be
    difficult for ELLs, or ELLs may not know all
    of their meanings;
•   Words that students will encounter in reading
    and writing across disciplines;
•   Important content-area vocabulary;
•   English-Spanish cognates, for Spanish-
    speaking ELLs.
                                    (Stahl & Nagy, 2006)
Three Principles of Vocabulary Instruction
• Present definitional information as well as
    many examples of use in context;
•   Actively involve students in word learning;
•   Provide multiple exposures to meaningful
    information about words.

                  (Stahl & Nagy, 2006)
            Core Aspects of Vocabulary
               Teaching Strategies
•   Using definitions, discussing usage contexts, and
    analyzing word parts are basic, complementary
•   Preparing students to use these sources of
    •   Develop an awareness of words and their complexity;
    •   Learn to recognize one’s own comprehension problems,
        along with strategies to attack them.
                            (Stahl & Nagy, 2006)
       Effective Dictionary Instruction for
            Different Literacy Levels
For beginning literacy levels
•   A picture dictionary teaches alphabetization and parts of the dictionary
    (Echevarria et al., 2004).

For advanced English learners
•   Use of bilingual dictionaries while reading increases vocabulary knowledge
    (Luppescu & Day, 1995).
•   Learning to identify key content vocabulary teaches word and comprehension
    awareness (Echevarria et al, 2004).

For all learners
•   Academic vocabulary should be explicitly taught in all classes, combining
    dictionary use and other techniques (Francis et al., 2006; Stahl & Nagy, 2006).
                Teaching the Structure
               of Dictionary Definitions
•   Begin with words students already know.
•   Show that definitions usually designate:
    •   the category (“genus”) of the word (e.g. a lecture is a type
        of speech, a whale is a type of mammal);
    •   how the word differs from others in the category (e.g.,
        lectures are primarily educational, unlike comedy
•   Present word part analysis and contextual
    information along with the definition.
•   Have students actively engage with the word’s
                                              (Stahl & Nagy, 2006)
         Learning to Analyze Word Parts
•   Understanding the meanings of English affixes
    boosts vocabulary learning (White et al., 1989):
    •   Eleven prefixes are present in 81% of prefixed words;
    •   Six suffixes are present in 80% of suffixed words;
•   Understanding the meaning of common Latin- and
    Greek-derived roots boosts academic vocabulary
    learning (Hiebert & Kamil, 2005);
•   Exercises with dictionary definitions can incorporate
    discussion of word parts.
            Active Learning Strategies
            for Analyzing Definitions
• Use concept of definition maps (Schwartz &
    Raphael, 1985);
• Use group discussion as well as whole-class
•   Have children rewrite definitions in their own
•   Once children understand dictionaries, have
    them use dictionaries while reading.
                          (Stahl & Nagy, 2006)
             Learning Strategies Using
          Contextual Information and Clues
• Have students create sentences or whole
      stories using the new word and compare with
      those of others;
•     Discuss the meaning of the same word in
      different sentences;
•     Expose students to contexts that use different
      senses of the word.
    (Stahl & Nagy, 2006; Sternberg & Powell,1983; Nist & Olejnik, 1995)
            Other Active Vocabulary
              Learning Strategies
•   Personal dictionaries of unknown words;
•   Word study books arranged by morphology (e.g.,
    suffixes) (Buehl, 1995);
•   A classroom Word Wall of key content vocabulary;
•   Maps of conceptual knowledge ranging beyond
    definitional information (Buehl, 1995);
•   Word sorts by morphology (e.g., affix types) or
•   Whole-class word-generation games (e.g., “How
    many words contain port, and what do they mean?”).
                          (Echevarria et al., 2004)
     The Future of ELL Assessment
•   Developing a stronger research base may lead to better test
    design or better guidance for using specific accommodations.
•   Native language and alternate assessments are challenging to
    develop and implement, but may be useful in some
• The academic achievement of ELLs remains a strong
    national priority, and assessment has an important role to
    play in today’s accountability agenda.

                                                     (G.A.O., 2006)