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Assessment of English language learners in New Zealand primary schools: Purposes, principles and practices.


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As of March 2015, it is mandatory for all New Zealand primary and secondary schools with English language learners (ELLs) to use the stages of the English language learning progressions (ELLP)(Ministry of Education, 2008) to determine learners’ eligibility for Ministry funding for resourcing of ESOL programmes. This represents a significant change from the previous cohort-based system of determining funding eligibility. Teachers with ELLs in their classrooms are now expected to “use a wide range of assessment tasks, activities and observations to make an OTJ (overall teacher judgment) with reference to the various descriptors on the ELLP matrices” (Ministry of Education, 2013). The guidelines provided to teachers regarding the new assessment process are fairly brief, and the Ministry advises that the assessment used to arrive at an OTJ should not be additional to the school’s “usual age-appropriate assessment tools, activities and observations”. This paper provides the background to the current assessment situation, which is located in the wider context of a move to standards-based assessment. It then examines three key considerations for teachers relating to aspects of the new assessment process. Firstly, how should teachers view the purpose of the assessment activities for determining funding eligibility – achievement, proficiency, diagnosis, or a combination of these? Secondly, what principles should guide teachers as they make assessment choices and decisions for ELL funding eligibility, including considerations such as validity, reliability, fairness, practicality and authenticity? Finally, what assessment practices are currently being chosen by teachers – how many assessment activities are used, how are they implemented, and what use is made of the results?
Little is known regarding current practices in regard to the assessment of ELLs using the new guidelines, and this paper includes a pilot study of a small number of teachers regarding this. Suggestions are also made for ongoing research in this area.

Item Type: Paper presented at a conference, workshop, or other event which was not published in the proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords: Assessment, ELLs, Overall Teacher Judgements, New Zealand, Primary teachers, ELLP, ESOL specialist teachers
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: Schools > School of Education
Depositing User: Sue Edwards
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2015 22:21
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 04:18

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