Happy second day of school teachers of emergent bilinguals! You have a plan, you have your themes and content objectives, you have your scope and sequence! After meeting your students on Thursday and getting settled, let’s get started with assessments for Stand Alone – the key to data-driven instruction.
state Assessments vs. assessments for data-driven stand alone
By this point in our lives, ‘assessment’ is a dirty word unfortunately. Emergent bilinguals are among the most over-tested students in our system. What does the NYSESLAT and state ELA test really tell us year after year? That our students are not acquiring sufficient fluency in English. This makes them unable to access the language on the tests to pass them.
What is data-driven instruction for Stand Alone?
By data-driven instruction for Stand Alone, I am specifically referring to informal, classroom-based assessments. They measure student knowledge of the content, which we can track in a ‘running record’. In simplest terms, when teachers test content knowledge and skills at various points in the year, it gives them information. Did my students get it? If yes, fantastic! Let’s move full steam ahead!
If the data show us that our students are not getting it, let’s slow down! The data should drive our instruction to target areas of weakness.
When we create formative assessments, we give ourselves a chance as teachers to inform and shape instruction according to our students’ needs. The ultimate goal of success is achieving the language objectives! And we know from research that
data-driven instruction leads to better learning outcomes for students.
And there is no content area that needs it more than Stand Alone ENL.
That’s why I’ve created a number of assessments for Stand Alone. They will help you collect some preliminary data on your students’ abilities. You can also create a running record of their progress throughout the year.
A word of caution
You may land up with a class of absolute newcomers, or nervous and shy students. It’s not emotionally sound to assess them in their first weeks of school! We want our students to feel welcome and safe in their new school environment, not embarrass or shame them.
In that case, simply look at the NYSITELL scores and proceed with meaning-based, oral language development! You can assess them in a few months, after you’ve gotten to know each other!
When you’re ready, the assessments fall into three areas, and I’ve designed them to be short and administered to the whole class at once.
Use the data you collect to drive your instruction in Stand Alone!
1. Listening comprehension and speaking: You will ask your students to watch a short video clip, answer yes or no to a statement or question about the information in the video, and then discuss and share out to the class.
You will use the NYSESLAT speaking rubric to score each student’s contribution to the class discussion. This might be difficult, so if you can, ask a para or other colleague to score for you. Otherwise, simply give your students a quick 0-2 rating. You may choose to reflect on their speaking abilities later, after you’ve gotten to know them a little better and have had more opportunities to hear them speak.
2. Writing: You will give your students an appropriate informal writing prompt – the prompt should be about something they can personally relate to (e.g., Who is your favorite celebrity and why?; What did you do over the summer?) and ask them to write as much as they can (from a sentence to a 5 sentence paragraph including a topic sentence, 3 details, and a concluding sentence.) You will use the NYSESLAT writing rubric to score each student’s writing sample.
3. Phonemic awareness: You will assess your students’ ability to spell basic words representing the elementary phonemes and syllable types of English. This will tell you to what extent they can decode, which will drive your phonics instruction. I have not included a separate measure of reading comprehension. The NYSITELL and NYSESLAT have already tested their ability to read an unfamiliar text and answer questions from it.
Resources for data-driven assessments for stand alone
You can find the instructions, assessments, and scoring materials here.
Stay tuned next week teachers, when I give you some ideas for introducing classroom routines to support your ENL Stand Alone instruction! Please leave questions and comments below and subscribe to my newsletter!