Trivia Test on State ELL Policies

By Mary Ann Zehr — July 29, 2008 2 min read
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Permit me to present the findings of a study on states’ policies for testing ELLs by the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, & Student Testing in a test format to emphasize how, these days, issues of assessing ELLs often seem to overshadow other issues regarding these students.

Answers to my test can be found in the executive summary (click on the second bullet here) for a report released yesterday by the center, “Recommendations for Assessing English Language Learners,” and two companion reports released previously. The answers are also listed at the bottom of this blog entry.

Warning: A validation study has not been conducted on this quiz. Also, I don’t really expect you to know the answers. Put yourself in the shoes of an ELL who has just arrived in the U.S. and is taking a test—and guess.

1) How many states are actively participating in the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium, which has developed the English-language-proficiency test, ACCESS for ELLs?

2) How many states have posted validation studies on their English-language proficiency tests on their state Web sites?

3) How many states are using only an English-language-proficiency test to decide if a student should be reclassified as proficient in English?

4) How many states permit individual school districts to decide reclassification criteria?

5) What’s the most popular kind of accommodation for testing ELLs among states?
a) directions read or repeated aloud in English
b) test items read aloud in English
c) bilingual dictionaries, glossaries, or word lists
d) directions translated (oral or written)
e) directions simplified or paraphrased

Bonus Question: Which policy is likely to be most problematic if the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed “interpretation” of Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act goes into effect?


1) The study says 18 (WIDA says a 19th state has joined as well, but hasn’t named it yet.)
2) 13
3) 12
4) 18
5) (c) bilingual dictionaries, glossaries, or word lists

Bonus: The answer to this question is not in the study. I speculate that the fact that 18 states permit school districts to decide reclassification criteria for ELLs is going to create more problems than other policies if the interpretation is finalized and implemented as is. The Education Department is calling for standardization of reclassification criteria within states (earlier posts about this are here and here.) The CRESST researchers recommend increased standardization within states of reclassification factors.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.