Effective Assessments for ELL's

Recently, my teaching partner and I were asked by our principal to put together a presentation to go over ELL modifications in content area classes.  In our school, we pull-out our ELL's for Language Arts but they remain in the classroom for all other content areas. Some have push-in support from a bilingual aide once or twice a week. With the implementation of the new teacher evaluation system, SGO's, and quite a few other things, we ELL teachers we are more than happy to make the modification process easier and more effective.

We began with a quick look into the Danielson (our evaluation system) framework, focusing specifically on preparation and planning (modifications).  Note the second paragraph in Unsatisfactory.  We got a few gasps at that one!

We continued onto a reading passage from a book called Pronouncing Words.  I received a copy at a workshop and don't have the author's name.    It is a comprehension passage of nonsense words, followed by questions.   The teachers in the workshop were able to answer the text-dependent questions, but when the question asked about defining a word, they were stumped.  The purpose of the exercise was to explain that ELL students can find answers in the text, but many words are still unfamiliar to them- they will need background support and scaffolding in order to be wholly successful. 

Next, we went over the WIDA Can-Do Descriptors, which you can find for grades 3-5 and grades 6-8 here on my blog.  You can also find them in the full version on the WIDA website.  Depending on your state, you may use CELLA or another measure of English Language Proficiency.  Once we established each student's level, we moved to modification practice. 

We used an actual example from our math textbook to modify, and if you are presenting, I would recommend the same thing.  The teachers were comfortable with the material and then began pulling up other assessments about which they had questions on their tablets.  Many of the questions we had were concerns about standardized testing, and I can only answer from a New Jersey point of view, but here are some FAQ's: 

1.  Do my students have to take the NJAsk?
Short answer: yes.  Long answer:  All ELL's take grade-level math, no matter what.  If your student has been in the country less than a year he/she does not have to take Language Arts.

2. Will they count to my SGO/SGP?
If you have included them in your sub-group for SGO, then yes.  For SGP, there are many criteria to take into account, including time spent in classroom, absences, and a few others. Remember that your students will be rated against students from other schools with the same demographic factors, such as Sp.Ed, ELL's, income, population, etc.

I thought our presentation went really well!  Some of the websites/apps recommended for ELL's during the presentation were: 

iXL - website
iMath- app
XtraMath - website
Sheppard Software- website
DoGoNews- website
TweenTribune - website

I hope this was helpful! If you would like a copy of our presentation, click here to grab it from Google Drive. 


  1. I am sure your presentation was wonderful! I hope the other teachers appreciated it and learned a lot. Thanks for sharing!

    Eclectic Educating

  2. Yay, that your presentation went well! We are starting a new teacher evaluation system soon too. It is a bit scary to think about. :)
    Conversations in Literacy


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