Thursday, February 12, 2015

Goodbye ELDA....Hello ACCESS!


Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires states to administer an assessment designed to measure students' progress in "...attaining proficiency, including a child's level of comprehension, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in English". For as long as I've been teaching in South Carolina, English language learners have taken the ELDA each spring to fulfill this requirement.

This year, the state of South Carolina has chosen a different test to assess out English language learners - the ACCESS for ELLs.  The test will still be given in the same testing window as the ELDA and all English language learners in our schools will be required to take it.

Here are some of the main differences between ELDA and ACCESS:

ELDA
ACCESS
Measures language proficiency in the domains of:
Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking
Measures the following areas of language proficiency:
-Social & Instructional Language
-Language of Language Arts
-Language of Mathematics
-Language of Science
-Language of Social Studies
in the domains of Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking
Tests are given according to grade level:
K-2 (inventory done by teacher)
3-5
6-8
9-12
Tests are given according to grade level:
Kindergarten
1-2
3-5
6-8
9-12
and according to English proficiency level:  Tier A(beginning),  Tier 2 (intermediate), and Tier 3 (advanced).
Student results are reported in one way:  a score from 1 to 5 in each of the four domains. 
Student results are reported in three ways: as raw scores, scale scores, and English language proficiency levels.  Interpretive guides are available to help with analyzing score reports and using the data to aid in classroom instruction.
We are excited to see how this new proficiency test can help us understand our students' language needs so we can serve them better in the future!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Differentiating curriculum for multi-level English Language Learners



When you have English Language Learners in your classroom, you can't just wait until they are at a high level of English proficiency before introducing them to academic content.  That is why it is so important to have a variety of techniques to differentiate the material providing all levels of English learners access to the curriculum.

In their book, Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom (2010), Carol Ann Tomlinson and Marcia Imbeau describe differentiation as creating a balance between academic content and students' individual needs.  Differentiation is not the same as individualized instruction.  With differentiation, every student is learning the same material, but how they learn the material and then show what they've learned may be different.

The following WIDA newsletter on differentiation not only goes into more detail about ways to differentiate but also demonstrates how a lesson and assessment can be created to meet various student needs.

WIDA Focus on Differentiation