Assessing ESOL Students & Changes to WIDA Scoring

Assessing ESOL Students & Changes to WIDA Scoring

esol assessments

Assessing ESOL students & Changes to WIDA scoring

Throughout the school year I constantly assess my ESOL students. I use short formative assessments that I integrated into activities we were already doing.

Using Rubrics for quick assessments

To get a sense of their speaking level I will sometimes take out the WIDA speaking rubric and simply listen to students conversations and write down where they fall on the rubric. Writing is also easy to organically assess. I look at writing samples students have completed or are in the process of completing, take note of how much support they have received and again use the WIDA writing rubric to score.

Listening and reading are a bit more challenging to assess. When I do a read aloud and ask comprehension questions I can use the listening rubric to get a general sense of their listening levels and use the reading rubric  along with anecdotal notes to get a reading level.

Practicing academic language through assessments

Sometimes I need to get a sense of how my ESOL students are doing through a more formal assessment.  This gives them exposure to the format of the WIDA assessment that they take once a year and the academic testing language they will need.

I have designed speaking, listening, reading, and writing assessments that are multiple choice or short response format. There are at least 4 versions in kindergarten, 1st-3rd, and 4th-5th.

WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Score Changes

In order to align the assessments more with Common Core Standards and the rigor that is being asked of students, WIDA 2.0 was has more challenging demands in all domains of language. This makes it more difficult for students to score the same level as in the past. Some states are responding to this change by lowering their cutoff score for students to stop receiving ESOL services. Other states allow teachers to use multiple measures including classroom performance. You can read more about the changes here.

How to Prepare for Language Testing

For additional ways to help students prepare for WIDA ACCESS 2.0 take a look at my most recent post on how to prepare ELLs for language testing, that includes ideas for testing on a computer.

Check out these ESOL assessments to use in your classroom: 

One of my struggles as an elementary ESOL teacher is that I did not have the ability to track my students progress throughout the school year. A solution I came up with was to create my own ESOL assessments. I developed 4 sets of assessments in reading, writing. listening, and speaking for kindergarten, 1-3, and 4-5.

Writing: Students respond to a writing prompt.  They can use a graphic organizer to plan.
Reading: The assessment are tiered so that students stop if they reach frustration level. 
Listening: Students listen to a script that the teacher reads. They have picture or words on their answer sheet.
Speaking: The speaking assessment starts off with basic identification questions and becomes more complex.

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