Educators across the United States must administer an English language development proficiency assessment to multilingual learners each school year. Many states use an English language proficiency assessment to measure school effectiveness in serving multilingual learners. The importance of this test is prompting educators to find ways to celebrate English language proficiency growth.
English language proficiency tests
An English language proficiency assessment is a test that monitors language proficiency progress in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Different states use different English language proficiency assessments. For instance, 41 states currently use a well-known assessment called WIDA ACCESS for ELs. Other states use their own assessments; New York uses the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), California uses the state of California uses the ELPAC state test for English language proficiency (ELP), and Texas uses the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS).
Upon registration and completion of the home language survey, multilingual learners are assessed for different reasons. A screener identifies students as English language learners, while an annual assessment measures English language progress.
Use of annual assessment results
Every state uses the results of the annual assessments in different ways. This is because some states use different standards and tests. Some states prioritize multilingual learner performance by making student growth part of their school accountability report card. Below are some ways states use English language proficiency results.
ESOL Teacher Accountability
The use of the annual test scores for accountability purposes is one-way schools measure teacher effectiveness. For instance, the WIDA ACCESS for ELs scale scores measures student language growth from year to year. WIDA provides a school frequency and student grade level reports to communicate school-wide and grade-level performance. These reports communicate student language performance for the current year.
Teachers of multilingual learners use annual ACCESS scores to compare student performance from year to year under their evaluation. For example, an ESOL teacher’s evaluation may include a performance goal stating ” students will grow X% in listening, speaking, reading, writing, or overall scale score performance from 2021 to 2022 school year”.
The measurement of a school’s accountability often includes the English language proficiency assessment performance of a school’s multilingual learner population. When states review the performance of multilingual learners, they look to see how students are performing and making progress in English language proficiency.
English language proficiency counts as part of the school-wide report card in some states. For instance, English language proficiency is assigned a percentage gained when a certain percentage of students meet their language proficiency goals. A school can also lose such a percentage if not enough students meet their English language proficiency goal. These percentages vary by state and may be available on a state’s department of education website.
Determine student eligibility
The annual English language assessment results determine eligibility as an English language learner. Each state’s cut score varies to determine a student’s eligibility. In most states, an overall or composite score determines whether a student qualifies as an English learner or when a student is ready to transition out of such services. Some states use other criteria to transition students out of English learner statuses, such as other assessment performance and grades.
Celebrate English language proficiency growth Success
A concern often expressed by teachers of multilingual learners is the lack of effort some students show when completing the test. This may result from students not understanding the importance of the test or, in some cases, a lack of confidence that influences performance.
What can we celebrate?
Teachers and schools can celebrate students who progress towards their English language proficiency goal. Reaching the ultimate goal and “exiting” is another milestone that teachers should celebrate. We should celebrate the importance of both landmarks just like schools and states celebrate and recognize making progress in benchmark and state testing.
Why celebrate English language proficiency growth progress
Some teachers and schools already celebrate student progress towards English language proficiency. However, not enough schools realize how important and beneficial this recognition can be. There are various reasons why such a celebration will benefit teachers and students.
Celebrating student progress shows students the importance of the English language proficiency test and how valuable their performance is in school. Additionally, the celebration can guide other teachers on how important this test is for students and school accountability. Recognizing students who make progress can spark more interest in classmates who may not show as much interest in performing well on the test.
How to celebrate English language proficiency progress
There are different ways to celebrate student academic progress. Furthermore, schools have gotten very good at coming up with great ways to celebrate. Some teachers throw a party; schools may present certificates or offer fun field trips. Every option you choose must consider funding, planning, and other resources.
Celebrate in the classroom
Some teachers celebrate by inviting kids to a classroom party. In these types of celebrations, teachers often offer pizza or snacks. An advantage of this type of celebration is that teachers can combine students from multiple grade levels and different grade levels if their teaching schedule does not allow for combination. For example, a class party requires teachers to use their own money to provide snacks or food.
Others may choose to invite students for lunch in the class. This option is often used to reward positive student behavior in school. Games and activities are often part of this option, making it a fun activity. Students enjoy this option because they get to eat with their teacher and share a game or activity with other friends.
For the first time in years, my school district will celebrate our student growth. We are providing students a certificate that will recognize their English language progress performance using the certificate below. A certificate is just one way to recognize student academic progress. This way of recognizing student progress is one of my favorite options. This is because it is often the only time a multilingual learner may be identified due to their lack of language abilities. The presentation of a certificate can happen during an award ceremony or in the classroom.
Certificates are lifelong memories that students often look forward to each school year. An excellent certificate can encourage students to try harder during each school year’s test. A certificate indicates that their teacher and school value their effort and performance.
Certificates can be easy to create. Use the above form to request two ready-to-use FREE templates! In addition, the internet has free templates that teachers and schools can use. Likewise, one program that provides free templates is canva.com. The creation of a certificate must consider the age of the students receiving the certificate.
In conclusion, English language proficiency performance is an area that schools and teachers must begin to celebrate. Recognizing student performance can foster more interest in the English language assessments that schools use to measure language progress in multilingual learners. Such recognition may influence student performance, which can positively yield better scores for teacher accountability and school-wide report cards.
Share with others how you celebrate your student growth below!