Saturday, July 20, 2013

Computerized English Language Proficiency Assessments around the Corner

Summertime is my time to slow down, breath and catch up on some of my reading and personal professional development. To that end, I sat in on two webinars at the end of June. I have already told you about the first webinar here.  Today I would like to share with you an overview of the second webinar and what it means to those of us in the WIDA Consortium. It was called Next-Generation English Language Proficiency Assessments. It was produced by the Alliance for Excellence in Education, and it's archived here
The webinar featured a panel of speakers, including Timothy Boals, WIDA's Executive Director; Gary Cook, WIDA's Research Director; Robert Linquanti, Project Director for English Learner Evaluation and Accountability Support from WestEd and Kathleen Vanderwall, Manager, Test Design and Administration at the Oregon State Department of Education. The webinar focused on the need for, and creation of, a new generation of English language proficiency assessments at the national level. Since the majority of you are working in WIDA Consortium states, I will focus on the next generation of the ACCESS for ELLs assessment. 

ACCESS 2.0, as it is currently being called, will be operational in 2015-2016. It will still be a test of academic English language proficiency, and it will be given to ELLs. It will still assess the four language domains (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and the five English language development standards.   But there will be some big changes. As my little visual aid states, ACCESS 2.0 will be a computer-delivered test. This change in format brings with it the opportunity to enhance the assessment experience in a few ways. Let me explain.

Because the test will be given via a computer, the language tasks will be more authentic. By including animations within the test items, student engagement will increase. Also, the speaking portion of the test will include models of expected responses. After listening to the sample responses, your students' speech will be recorded by the computer and scored offsite. This will make the testing experience more standardized across the consortium. And possibly the most exciting change for test administrators will be…..

Drum roll please….

The ACCESS 2.0 speaking tests will not have to be administered individually and you will be able to simultaneously administer multiple grades and multiple tiers of the assessment. Very exciting for those of you who administer the test! Doubly exciting for those of you who have been creating the testing schedules each year! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. 
I would highly recommend that you check out the website for this project for the most up-to-date information.  There you will find a lot of great information and a wonderful side-by-side comparison of the original ACCESS for ELLs test and ACCESS 2.0. 

 Written by: Tammy King



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