Federal

Two State Consortia Vie for Grants to Create ELL Tests

By Mary Ann Zehr — June 14, 2011 3 min read

California and Wisconsin each have formed a consortium with other states and applied for the full $10.7 million available in a grant competition to create English-language-proficiency tests for the states’ common-core academic standards.

Their applications will force the U.S. Department of Education to decide if it will split up the money or choose one winner. The awards will be announced in late summer.

Each of the two consortia has recruited enough states to meet the 15-state minimum required by the Education Department to get bonus points in the application-review process. California’s consortium includes 17 other states; Wisconsin’s includes 26 others.

Some states with a large number of English-language learners are not on the list of either consortium, including New York, which already had been developing an English-proficiency assessment for its state alone, and Texas, which didn’t adopt the common-core standards.

Both consortia propose to create computer-based assessments, which is also the case for the consortia creating regular academic-content assessments aligned with the common-core standards. (Draft Rules Point Way to Consistency in ELL Policies,” April 6, 2011.)

In addition to developing summative assessments, both California and Wisconsin propose to create a diagnostic assessment that can be used for identification and placement of ELLs. And they both plan to include tools that will inform curriculum planning and assessment. The summary of the grant proposal submitted by Wisconsin calls these tools “formative assessments,” while the summary of the application submitted by California says the assessments will “provide data to inform teachers in their instruction and curriculum planning.”

Deborah V.H. Sigman, the deputy state superintendent for the curriculum, learning, and accountability branch of the California Department of Education, said the California proposal intentionally avoided the word “formative” because the word is sometimes misused.

Wisconsin’s proposal pledges to create benchmark assessments, while California’s proposal does not. The document says the benchmark assessments will be organized by language domain—which means reading, writing, speaking, and listening—and five grade-level clusters that will provide “immediate feedback.” By contrast, the proposal describes formative assessments as a process that will integrate language-learning progressions aligned with the common-core standards into assessments used in the classroom.

The summary from California says that state will join with the Council of Chief State School Officers to create the tests. Wisconsin’s plan says that state and its partners will work in collaboration with the World-class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium, or WIDA, which has developed the nation’s most popular English-language-proficiency test, to make the new assessments. WIDA, housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has also conducted a fair amount of research about its English-proficiency test.

Ellen Forte, the president and founder of edCount, a Washington-based assessment-consulting business, and an expert on evaluating the validity of assessments, sized up the Wisconsin proposal as more clearly and coherently spelling out how its consortium would address test design, administration, scoring, psychometrics, and reporting than the California proposal.

‘A Waste of Time’?

But Stephen D. Krashen, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, says that creating a new generation of English-language-proficiency tests is a waste of time and money. He criticized the proposals for being based “on the invalid assumption that we can describe and teach all aspects of language directly.” He added, “I have argued since 1975 that direct teaching is very limited: descriptions of rules [for how language works] are incomplete and often very complicated, and it is very difficult to use the rules we have consciously learned.”

California has recruited 17 other states for its consortium: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia.

Wisconsin has recruited 26 other states plus the District of Columbia. The states are: Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Three states are on both lists.

Related Tags:
Partnerships State Policy ESEA

A version of this article appeared in the June 15, 2011 edition of Education Week as Two State Consortia Compete for Grant to Create ELL Tests

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Districts Are Centering Relationships and Systemic SEL for Back to School 21-22
As educators and leaders consider how SEL fits into their reopening and back-to-school plans, it must go beyond an SEL curriculum. SEL is part of who we are as educators and students, as well as
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
The Fall K-3 Classroom: What the data imply about composition, challenges and opportunities
The data tracking learning loss among the nation’s schoolchildren confirms that things are bad and getting worse. The data also tells another story — one with serious implications for the hoped for learning recovery initiatives
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Student Well-Being Online Summit Student Mental Health
Attend this summit to learn what the data tells us about student mental health, what schools can do, and best practices to support students.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal How the Pandemic Is Affecting Schools' Mandated Collection of Key Civil Rights Data
COVID-19 has complicated the work of gathering a vast store of civil rights data about schools that is required by the Education Department.
7 min read
Image of data.
monsitj/iStock/Getty
Federal To Get Remaining COVID-19 Aid, Schools and States Must Detail In-Person Learning Plans
Among other things, states and schools must detail the extent to which they will meet CDC recommendations on universal mask-wearing in schools.
3 min read
an illustration of a boat made from a folded dollar bill.
Todd Bates/iStock/Getty
Federal Miguel Cardona: Schools Must Work to Win Trust of Families of Color as They Reopen
As Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced new school reopening resources, he encouraged a focus on equity and student engagement.
4 min read
Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing Feb. 3, 2021.
Now-U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing in February.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal CDC: Nearly 80 Percent of K-12, Child-Care Workers Have Had at Least One COVID-19 Shot
About four out of five teachers, school staffers, and child-care workers had first COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of March, CDC says.
2 min read
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11, 2021. Teachers received their first vaccine during an all-day event at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP