Assessment Adaptations for ELLs – Having High Expectations!

  • Range – Adapt the number of items the ELL is expected to complete, such as even or odd number only.Determine percentages of correct responses based on the number of items assessed .

  • Time – Adapt the amount of time the ELL has for completing a task, such as providing more processing time and/or breaking tasks into manageable chunks.Unless there is a requirement to have a timed test, allowing additional time should not affect a student’s score or grade.

  • Level of Support – Adapt the amount of scaffolding provded to the ELL during assessmentws, by asking a para, peer assistant or parent volunteer to read and/or explain the task, or even read aloud (and translate, if possible) the items for the assessment. Remember the difference between assessing an ELL’s ability to read and follow written directions and his or her ability to complete a task or answer questions about a content topic.If you are looking for a student’s content knowledge (not his ability to read directions) it is fine to have someone else help with reading or clarifying what the expectation for the task is.

  • Difficulty --Adapt the skill level, type of problem or task, and the process for how an ELL can approach the task, such as allowing a calculator, dictionary or thesaurus, or simplified instructions.One again, you are not reducing the expectation that the ELL should know the material -- you are just making it easier for him or her to demonstrate understanding.

  • Product --Adapt the type of response that the ELL is allowed to provide, such as permitting drawings, a hands-on demonstration, a verbal, and if necessary and possible, a translated response.Whereas native speakers may be required to write a paragraph summary or essay, it may be reasonable for an ELL to submit an illustration, poster-board explanation, or other kind of product that doesn’t rely so much on sophisticated English usage.

  • Participation – Adapt the degree of active involvement of the ELL in assessment, such as encouraging self-assessment, assistance in creating rubrics, and cooperative group self-assessment.Content learning is enhanced for all students, but especially ELLs, through interaction and group work.


      • Finally, to the extent possible, students should be assessed on their personal progress to determine if learning has taken place.When students have varying levels of proficiency, the value of this approach is apparent.If teachers gather baseline data on what students know and can do with the content information before instruction occurs and then what they know and can do afterward, teachers can identify student growth.