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Promising Research-based Practices in Instruction and Assessment for English Language Learners


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Title: Promising Research-based Practices in Instruction and Assessment for English Language Learners

Promising Research-based Practices in Instruction
and Assessment for English Language Learners
  • Ani C. Moughamian, PhD
  • Assistant Research Professor
  • University of Houston
  • Center on Instruction, ELL Strand

The Center on Instruction is operated by RMC
Research Corporation in partnership with the
Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida
StateUniversity Instructional Research Group
the Texas Institute for Measurement,Evaluation,
and Statistics at the University of Houston and
The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational
Risk at the University of Texas at Austin.The
contents of this PowerPoint were developed under
cooperative agreement S283B050034 withthe U.S.
Department of Education. However, these contents
do not necessarilyrepresent the policy of the
Department of Education, and you should
notassume endorsement by the Federal
Government.2009 The Center on Instruction
requests that no changes be made to the content
or appearance of this product. To download a
copy of this document, visit www.centeroninstructi

Audience Poll I What RCC (or area) are you from?
  • Alaska
  • Appalachia (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee,
    Virginia, West Virginia)
  • California
  • Florida and the Islands (Puerto Rico, Virgin
  • Great Lakes East (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio)
  • Great Lakes West (Illinois, Wisconsin)
  • Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey,
    Pennsylvania, DC)
  • Mid-Continent (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri,
  • New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts,
    New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
  • New York
  • North Central (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North
    Dakota, South Dakota)
  • Northwest (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington,
  • Pacific (Hawaii, American Samoa, Mariana Islands,
    Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Palau)
  • Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,
    Mississippi, South Carolina)
  • Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico,
  • Texas

Audience Poll II What is your role?
  • RCC staff member
  • SEA staff member
  • LEA staff member
  • Teacher/paraprofessional
  • State director
  • Administrator
  • Professional development staff
  • Other

POLL I and II Results
  • Where are you from?
  • What are your roles?

  • Part I
  • Instructional Issues
  • Part II
  • Assessment Issues

  • The research we present here is where the field
    currently stands
  • Research on ELLs is limited
  • Particularly research that is scientifically-base
    d or experimental
  • Emerging research exists (e.g. Francis, Lesaux,
    Vaughn, CREATE etc.), but may not have been
    published yet

Why we need good information
  • Over five million ELLs in US schools
  • Over the past 10 years, the number of ELLs has
    grown by 57 (NCELA, 2007)
  • 59 of ELLs qualify for free/reduced lunch
  • 8th grade ELLs score lower than English speaking
    peers in reading and mathematics
  • Students who speak another language at home lag
    20 points behind in high school completion
  • (NCELA, 2008)

Audience Poll III
  • Are you currently working with your state(s),
    district(s), and/or school(s) to make decisions
    about instructional programming for ELL students?
  • Yes
  • No

POLL III Results
PART I Instructional Topics
  • Language of instruction
  • Reviews that discuss effective instructional
    practices for ELLs
  • Additional promising instructional practices
  • Questions/Discussion

Language of Instruction
  • Current debate about efficacy of bilingual versus
    English only instruction
  • Political issue laws in four states (CA, MA, AZ,
    FL) that have mandated English only instruction
    for all ELLs
  • Generally, reviews have found that bilingual
    programs seem to be more effective for ELLs

Good Instructional Practices (Goldenberg, 2008)
  • Good instruction and good curriculum holds for
    ALL students, including ELLs (in general)
  • Clear goals and learning objectives
  • Meaningful, challenging, and motivating contexts
  • Content-rich curriculum
  • Well-designed, clearly structured, well-paced
  • Active engagement and participation

Good Instructional Practices, cont
  • Opportunities to practice, apply, and transfer
    new learning
  • Feedback
  • Review and practice
  • Assessment to monitor progress (then re-teaching
    if necessary)
  • Opportunities to interact with peers in
    motivating and structured contexts

Instructional Modifications (Goldenberg, 2008)
  • Use text with familiar content
  • Build English vocabulary knowledge
  • Primary language support
  • Scaffold ELLs in an English-only environment
  • Promote productive interaction between ELLs and
    fluent English speakers
  • Give ELLs more time to learn
  • Assess ELLs content knowledge separately from
    language development knowledge

National Literacy Panel, 2006
  • Few experimental and rigorous studies of literacy
    instruction for ELL students
  • Small numbers make it difficult to make
    conclusive recommendations
  • Effective literacy instruction for ELLs looks
    similar to instruction for native speakers
  • Some modifications are necessary
  • Developing ELLs English proficiency is important

NLP Instructional Practices
  • Appropriate use of native language
  • Modify curriculum based on students knowledge of
    native language
  • Connections between languages
  • Provide support and practice in English
  • Identify and clarify difficult text
  • Summarize text
  • Provide extra practice time to read

NLP Instructional Practices, cont
  • Focus on vocabulary
  • Check for reading comprehension
  • Provide ideas clearly across multiple domains
    (e.g. both verbally and in writing)
  • Paraphrase students talk
  • Provide opportunities to practice oral language

Systemic efforts (NLP, 2006)
  • Effective practices for native English speakers
    also seem to work for ELL students
  • Implicit and explicit challenges
  • Active involvement
  • Activities in which students can be successful
  • Scaffolding instruction
  • Teacher feedback
  • Collaborative/cooperative learning
  • Sheltered instruction
  • Respect for diversity

Effective Literacy Instruction (NLP)
  • Explicit instruction in literacy components (i.e.
    phonemic awareness, phonics, oral reading,
    fluency, reading comprehension, vocabulary,
    writing, and spelling)
  • Complex approaches to teaching literacy
  • Address multiple literacy components
  • Few experimental studies

Genessee, et. al., 2005
  • Oral language development
  • Literacy
  • Academic achievement
  • Program factors

Oral Language Development
  • Daily oral English language instruction until
    ELLs achieve minimum proficiency level
  • Developing oral language in English is essential
    to ELLs school achievement
  • ELLs need time to develop English oral
  • 4-7 years (e.g. Hakuta, Butler, Witt, 2000)
  • ELLs need structured, well-designed tasks and
    opportunities to use oral English in the classroom

  • ELLs with literacy knowledge in L1 acquire L2
    literacy more readily
  • Direct instruction
  • Interactive instruction
  • Combination of the two

Academic Achievement
  • ELLs need sustained instruction in L1
  • However, bilingual proficiency and biliteracy
    have a positive impact on achievement
  • Instruction should focus on utilizing the
    relationship between development of L1 and L2
  • Developing students proficiency in both languages
    can be beneficial

Program Factors
  • Positive school environment
  • Meaningful challenging curriculum (higher order
  • Cooperative learning and interaction
  • Staff who knowledgeable about bilingualism and
    second language development

Effective Literacy and Language Instruction for
ELLs (IES Guide)
  • Five recommendations
  • Screen for reading problems and monitor progress
  • Provide intensive small-group reading
  • Provide extensive and varied vocabulary
  • Develop academic English
  • Schedule regular peer-assisted learning

What the reviews have in common
  • Importance of oral language development in
  • Academic language and vocabulary development
  • Opportunities for classroom conversationcollabora
    tive/peer-assisted learning strategies
  • Use of students native language in instruction
    is beneficial
  • Use of assessment to guide instruction

Additional Instructional Practices
  • Sheltered instruction
  • Relationship between oral and written language
  • Narrative
  • Academic language

Sheltered Instruction
  • Language development through content
  • SIOP is one example, particularly good for older
    ELLs (e.g. Short Echevarria, 2004 Echevarria,
    Short, Powers, 2006)
  • Careful lesson preparation
  • Build background knowledge, provide
    comprehensible input, incorporate strategies,
    interaction, applications and practice, and
  • Teacher scaffolds materials by drawing on
    background knowledge, creating shared experiences

Oral and Written Language
  • Strength of relationship
  • Narrative (e.g. Dickenson Tabors, 2001 Bailey
    Moughamian, 2007 Moughamian, in prep.)
  • Need opportunities for oral language development
  • Peer assisted learning has some demonstrated
    success in this area

Academic Language
  • Crucial for comprehension and analysis of texts
    (esp. in secondary)
  • Teach vocabulary in context
  • See it, say it, use it in a sentence, notice
    something about it (e.g. prefix, cognate, part of
    speech, etc.)
  • Teach both content and academic vocabulary
    explicitly (Calderon, 2007)
  • Teach strategies
  • Guessing a word from context
  • Use prefixes, suffixes, and roots

  • Id like to spend about 5-10 minutes if you have
    questions about the instructional section

  • Are you currently working with your state(s),
    district(s), and/or school(s) on issues of
    assessment and accountability for ELL students?
  • Yes
  • No

POLL IV Results
Part II Assessment Topics
  • Importance and purpose of assessment for ELLs
  • Assessment and NCLB
  • LEP Framework
  • Additional recommendations for assessment of ELLs
  • Questions/Discussion

Importance of Assessment for ELLs
  • Fair and valid assessment is a priority of the
    national educational agenda (Francis, Rivera,
    Lesaux, Kieffer, Rivera, 2006)
  • Assessment impacts ELLs in significant ways
  • Classroom
  • curriculum and instruction
  • classification and grouping

Purpose of Language Proficiency and Literacy
  • Determine language program placement
  • Monitor student progress/performance
  • Inform instruction
  • Guide student exit decisions
  • Identify students eligible for special services
    (e.g. Title I, speech and hearing, special
    education, accelerated/gifted programs)
  • August Hakuta, 1997 Kato et. al., 2004)

Assessment and NCLB
  • Language proficiency and content standards must
    be aligned to each other and achievement targets
  • Links language proficiency to language necessary
    for academic success in content
  • The law calls for ELL students to be accurately
    and validly assessed
  • Abedi, 2007

Post-NCLB Assessments
  • Four consortia developed assessments under NCLB
  • Mountain West Assessment
  • English Language Development Assessment (ELDA)
  • Comprehensive English Language Learner Assessment
  • Assessing Comprehension and Communication in
    English State to State for English Language
    Learners (ACCESS for ELLs)

Post-NCLB Assessments cont
  • Include items across four domains of reading,
    writing, listening, and speaking
  • Also include comprehension in listening and
    reading and overall performance
  • Assessments were tested on representative samples
    of students

LEP Framework (AACC, 2008)
  • Designed to help states ensure that their ELL
    students achieve English language proficiency and
    also, achieve at high levels academically
  • Provides criteria for high quality English
    language proficiency standards aligned to
  • Use for evaluating existing standards and
  • Also can be used to develop and implement new
    standards and assessments

  • And now for some further

RTI Framework for Assessment
  • Addresses (mis)placement of ELLs in special
  • Used for determining/identifying whether an ELL
    has a true disability or if it is a language
  • Requires effective, on-going assessment beginning
    in kindergarten
  • Include measures of print awareness, phonological
    awareness, letter-word identification, vocabulary
    knowledge, and oral language proficiency

Native Language Assessment
  • Comprehensive assessment in both languages gives
    a more complete picture of language skills and
  • Listening, speaking, reading, and writing
  • Interpret results with caution
  • Not all ELLs receive native language instruction
  • May want to give instructions in native language

Progress Monitoring
  • Conduct formative assessments with ELLs using
    English language measures of phonological
    processing, letter knowledge, and word/text
  • Use this data to identify ELLs who need
    instructional support
  • Use this data to monitor reading progress over
  • (Gersten, Baker, Shanahan, Linan-Thompson,
    Collins, Scarcella, 2007)

  • Linguistic accommodations
  • Can be effective, especially for those students
    at intermediate proficiency in English
  • Other kinds of accommodations include
  • Native language use
  • Instructions, student responses, translate test
    items, side-by side dual language test
  • More time
  • Dictionaries
  • Customized glossary

Multiple Data sources
  • Use multiple sources of data
  • Ensure that students are assessed in different
    ways for placement
  • Data should be consistent across those multiple
  • Comprehensive language and literacy screening and
    assessment system for ELLs

Assessment Questions
  • Do you have any questions about the assessment
    portion of this presentation?
  • Do you have any remaining questions about the
    entire presentation?

  • Abedi, J. (2007). English language proficiency
    assessment in the nation Current status and
    future practice. Davis, CA UC Davis School of
  • Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive
    Center. (2009). Framework for High-Quality
    English Language Proficiency Standards and
    Assessment. San Francisco, CA WestEd.
  • August, D. Hakuta, K. (1997). Improving
    schooling for language minority children A
    Research Agenda. Washington, DC National Academy
  • Bailey, A. L. Moughamian, A. C. (2007). Telling
    stories their way Narrative scaffolding with
    emergent readers and readers. Narrative Inquiry,
    17(2), 203-231.
  • Ballantyne, K. G., Sanderman, A. R., Levy, J.
    (2008). Education English language learners
    Building teacher capacity. Washington, DC
    National Clearinghouse for English Language
    Acquisition. Retrieved from http//www.ncela.gwu.e
  • Calderón, M. E. (2007). Teaching reading to
    English language learners, Grades 6-12 A
    framework for improving achievement in the
    content areas. Thousand Oaks, CA Corwin Press.
  • Dickinson, D. K., Tabors, P. (Eds.). (2001).
    Beginning literacy with language Young children
    learning at home and school. Baltimore Paul
    Brooks Publishing.
  • Echevarria, J., Short, D. J., Powers, K.
    (2006). School reform and standards-based
    education A model for English language learners.
    Journal of Educational Research, 99(4), 195-210.
  • Francis, D. J., Rivera, M., Lesaux, N., Kieffer,
    M., Rivera, H. (2006). Practical guidelines for
    the education of English language learners
    Research-based recommendations for instruction
    and academic interventions. Portsmouth, NH RMC
    Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.
    Retrieved from http//

References, cont
  • Genessee, F., Lindholm-Leary, K., Saunders, W.,
    Christian, D. (2005). English language learners
    in U.S. schools An overview of research
    findings. Journal of Education for Students
    Placed at Risk, 10(4), 363-385.
  • Gersten, R., Baker, S. K., Shanahan, T.,
    Linan-Thompson, S., Collins, P., Scarcella, R.
    (2007). Effective literacy and English language
    instruction for English learners in the
    elementary grades A practice guide (NCEE
    2007-4011). Washington, DC National Center for
    Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance,
    Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department
    of Education. Retrieved from http//
  • Goldenberg, C. (2008). Teaching English language
    learners What the research does and does not
    say. American Educator, 8-44.
  • Kato, K., Albus, D., Liu, K., Guven, K.,
    Thurlow, M. (2004). Relationships between a
    statewide language proficiency test and academic
    achievement assessments LEP projects report 4.
    Minneapolis, MN University of Minnesota,
    National Center on Educational Outcomes.
  • Moughamian, A. C. (in preparation). The stories
    we tell Narrative skill and literacy outcomes in
    4th, 5th, and 6th grade Armenian American English
    learner students. Unpublished manuscript, UCLA.
  • Shanahan, T. Beck, I. L. (2006). Effective
    literacy teaching for English language learners.
    In D. L. August and T. Shanahan (Eds.).
    Developing literacy in a second language Report
    of the National Literacy Panel, (415-488).
    Mahwah, NJ Lawrence Erlbaum 
  • Short, D. J. Echevarria, J. (2004). Using
    multiple perspectives in observations of diverse
    classrooms The Sheltered Instruction Observation
    Protocol (SIOP). In H. C. Waxman, R. G. Tharp,
    R. S. Hilberg (Eds.). Observational research in
    US classrooms New approaches for understanding
    cultural and linguistic diversity, (21-47). New
    York, NY Cambridge, UP.

  • COI Website
  • http//
  • National Center on RTI website
  • http//
  • Assessment and Accountability Center
  • http//

Resources, cont
  • Center for Applied Linguistics
  • http//
  • http//
  • IES
  • http//
  • What Works website (through IES)
  • http//

Resources, cont
  • Colorin Colorado
  • National Literacy Panel
  • http//

Thank You!