The Coaching and Self-Reflection Tool for Competency in Teaching English Learners

The Coaching and Self-Reflection Tool for Competency in Teaching English Learners

Indicator 2c

Domain 2: Planning for Active Learning

Teachers plan instruction to engage students in rigorous and relevant learning and to promote their curiosity about the world at large by:

icon2c. Selecting appropriate assessment strategies to monitor student progress

It is crucial to select appropriate assessment strategies for English learners to monitor progress. Summative assessments designed and normed for native English speakers may not be valid or reliable measures of student performance for English learners (Abedi, 2006). A single assessment snapshot for an English learner may not be a reliable measure of what he or she understands because of his or her level of English proficiency. As such, the use of formative assessment processes for English learners is critical to monitor academic and language growth. When designing classroom assessment processes for English learners, it is critical to use the student’s English language proficiency level when considering what an English learner is able to do in relation to his or her language level and plan for multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding, using a variety of modalities (Staehr Fenner, 2016).

Specific practices and strategies that allow teachers to assess English learners may include planning for:

  • Using academic language and sentence frames that are appropriate to the language level of English learners.
  • Using frequent nonverbal, oral, and written questions to elicit student understanding of key concepts and ideas.
  • Differentiating grade-appropriate criteria for success based on language proficiency level, as outlined in the CELP Standards.
  • Integrating assessment opportunities that allow students to demonstrate thinking and understanding through multiple modalities (i.e., oral, written, gestures, project-based, multimedia) with scaffolds appropriate to the English language proficiency level of the students (e.g., leveled sentence framesleveled questions, opportunities for discussion and collaboration with peers, model responses).
  • Providing self-assessment opportunities with tools appropriate to the students’ level of English language proficiency (e.g., native language self-assessment, journaling, drawing, rubrics/check-lists with appropriate and clear academic language, conferring).

Sample “Might See” for 2c

In a seventh-grade science classroom, six out of 25 students are English learners. Of those English learners, four are proficient in speaking, listening, and writing but not reading. The other two students are proficient in speaking and listening and a level 3 in both reading and writing, according to the annual English language proficiency assessment. The students all speak different languages. An observer might see:

  • Plans for various and periodic assessments (e.g., thumbs up/thumbs down, answers on white boards) during the lesson.
  • Plans for time to provide feedback (e.g., conferences, use of native language, focused on one or two points of focus) on learning using language appropriate to the English learners’ language proficiency.
  • Questions written on the materials that contain sentence frames to help answer the questions.
  • Key academic vocabulary included in questions is always paired with a visual cue.

Sample coaching and reflection questions

  • How might your newly arrived ELs demonstrate what they have learned?
  • When you consider your English learners’ English language proficiency levels, what might be the best methods for them to demonstrate their learning?
  • How might you use the CELP Proficiency Descriptors to help you determine how to design assessments and identify criteria for success?
  • What questions might you ask your ELs to ensure you know where they are in progress toward mastery?
  • How might you assess your ELs in a way that language is not a barrier to demonstrating their understanding?