Math assessment for English language learners
One of the main challenges in helping English language learners with math is determining the best way to assess their knowledge. More than 5.3 million students in the United States are ELLs, which means that developing adequate methods of math assessment is a concern across the nation. The standardized tests taken by students do not always accurately reflect the knowledge of ELLs, which is why many educators are using other creative strategies to ensure these students truly understand what they are learning.
One of the key limitations of standardized tests is that they only measure students’ understanding of math at one particular point in time. Ongoing assessments, on the other hand, allow educators to more accurately gauge progress being made. Performance-based assessments make note of the math abilities of ELLs every day through the completion of activities like written assignments and oral reports. It’s important to use pre-established criteria when conducting performance-based assessments so as to make them as objective as possible.
Adaptive learning systems
When educators have a class with a large number of English language learners, it may be difficult to conduct performance-based assessments on a daily or weekly basis. To overcome this problem, many math teachers have turned to adaptive learning systems to collect data about student knowledge in real-time. Programs like DreamBox Learning Math are able to track every mouse click, analyzing student strategies and comprehension, and issuing student progress reports that teachers can then use to assess proficiency and inform their instructional strategies.
Another method of math assessment that can be used for English language learners is portfolios. Throughout the year, collect information – such as completed assignments, test data and notes on student performance – and place it in a portfolio. This can then be referenced as you determine whether or not ELLs are making progress toward the curricular goals that have been laid out. Compiling all of this information in one place can also help you assess which areas of math may require more attention or explanation.
Of course, ELLs are also required to take standardized tests, just like their peers. The No Child Left Behind Act does not offer an exemption based on English language proficiency. However, some states offer accommodations. For example, ELLs may be able to take an assessment in their native language so long as it is aligned with the content and achievement standards of the state.
What math assessments do you use to measure the knowledge of English language learners? Share your thoughts with us!