English-Language Learners Report Roundup

English-Language Learners

By Sarah D. Sparks — April 19, 2011 1 min read

A new study from the University of Georgia suggests that including appropriate graphics with test questions can help English-language learners translate their math skills.

Albert M. Jimenez, a researcher in evaluation measurement and statistics at the Athens, Ga., university, partnered with a large, unnamed suburban school district to evaluate test items for the district’s interim assessments for grades 3-8. About 400 of the district’s nearly 3,000 students in those grades are English-language learners.

Looking at nine math exams, Mr. Jimenez found that out of 270 test questions, only 70 included a useful graphic, such as a rectangle labeled with measurements for a question on the area of a swimming pool.

English-proficient students outperformed English-learners on questions without a relevant graphic by 7.9 percent. When ELLs had a useful graphic, the gap narrowed to 2.8 percent; they outperformed English-proficient students on 28 such questions.

The study was presented this month at the American Educational Research Association meeting in New Orleans.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 20, 2011 edition of Education Week as English-Language Learners

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