Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Using Rubrics and Checklists for Language Proficiency Assessments

Teachers often tell me that one of the trickiest aspects of designing classroom-based assessments is to identify what we want to assess and then how to document it. 
Recently I blogged about common assessments and ELLs.  In that post, I mentioned that there are two main types of assessments for ELLs –assessments that measure academic content knowledge and assessments that document language proficiency.  So as we design our assessments we need to ask ourselves “Am I assessing my students’ knowledge of the content or their ability to speak/read/write about this topic?”  

Most school districts have multiple assessments for academic content knowledge.  Typically there is a district assessment plan or schedule that details when and how often to give various content assessments.  End of the unit assessments, quarterly or semester assessments and yearly assessments of content knowledge are set. 
But what about assessing our students’ language proficiency? 

I can practically hear your collective response “Is she serious?  We just finished packing up the ACCESS test!”  And you are right; the ACCESS does assess English language proficiency.  But it is an annual assessment, and it will be quite a while before you receive the results.  So how do you assess English language proficiency in between ACCESS tests?  For those of us in bilingual or dual language programs, how do you assess your students’ language proficiency in non-English languages? (Stay tuned - more on Spanish language development standards and assessments will be coming soon!)

For English language proficiency assessments, you can use the WIDA Speaking and Writing Rubrics.  These are the same rubrics that are used with the ACCESS for ELLs® assessment and the MODEL™ assessments.  They are analytic rubrics that provide criteria to rate students’ performance on Language Control, Linguistic Complexity and Vocabulary Usage across the levels of English language proficiency.  If this doesn’t meet your needs, you can work with a few of your colleagues to create a comparable holistic rubric or checklist.  Or you can create a rubric or checklist that covers more than one language domain.  For example:
·        Oral language ( listening and speaking)
·        Literacy (reading and writing). 
·        Productive language (reading and speaking)
·        Receptive language (listening and reading)

The best part about taking the time to create these rubrics and checklists is that you can use them  over and over again.  In fact, if you use the same rubric/checklist for similar assignments you can easily chart student growth.  For example, you can create a rubric or checklist that targets the language needed in an extended response math problem.  Then you can use it again to assess future extended response math problems.  This would be an example of assessing the language of math – not just the computation.  For more on the language of math, click here

Written by: Tammy King


  1. SPet, MA teacherJune 20, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Thank you. Using the ACCESS rubrics for ongoing assessment seems obvious now that you say it, but I'm new to WIDA and this is a huge AHA!

  2. Wonderful post!!! Genuinely loved this kind of post. Although I want much more information on like precious subject matter.

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