ESL Assessment K-12
Janet L. Pierce, Ph.D.
ESL Teacher, ELL Coordinator
Franklin Regional School District
Why assessment for ESLState and federal requirementbased on information in the
student’s record- Home Language
Survey, if a student speaks more
than one language at home they
must be screened to check English
Basic Education Circulars (BECS)
Educating Students With Limited English
Proficiency (LEP) and English Language
Learners (ELL)
22 Pa. Code §4.26 DATE OF ISSUE: July 1, 2001
The school district/charter school must administer
a home language survey (HLS) to all students as
required by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The
results of that survey must be retained in the
student's permanent folder. For those students
whose primary language is other than English
(PHLOTE), the district must also determine the
student's English language proficiency. Then, ESL
instruction at the appropriate level must be
provided for the limited English proficient student
with local/state funds.
More reasons why we assess
It helps instruction- you can
adapt instruction based on the
English level needs of the
students considered ELLs
You exit ELLs according to
stringent state requirements
Exit Criteria
In order to meet the required state exit
criteria for Pennsylvania's English
language instructional programs for ELLs,
LEAs (ex. Franklin Regional School
District) must use both of the required
exit criteria listed below.
In addition, LEAs (Franklin Regional
School District) must ensure that students
meet one of the two additional exit
criteria provided below to exit from an
English language instructional program:
Required Exit Criteria:
Score of Basic on the annual Pennsylvania System of
School Assessment (PSSA).
* For students transferring from other states, out-of-state
academic achievement assessment results may be considered when the
academic proficiency level is comparable to Basic on the PSSA.
* For students that are in a grade that is not assessed with the
PSSA, LEA's must use each of the remaining criteria listed below to exit
Score of Proficient (Bridging as per the Pennsylvania
Language Proficiency Standards for English Language
Learners) in the areas of Listening, Speaking, Reading
and Writing on the annual state English language
proficiency assessment. The Proficient (Bridging) score
will be based on the total composite assessment results of
all 4 learning domains on the state test.
Additional Exit Criteria:
Final grades of C or better in core subject
areas (Mathematics, Language Arts,
Science and Social Studies).
Scores on district-wide assessments that
are comparable to the Basic performance
level on the PSSA.
The state test is the ACCESS for
Test results must be taken from (c) tier assignment and
proficiency score requirements for exit from English
language instructional programs:
Composite Proficiency Scores
ACCESS proficiency scores, as presented on the teacher report,
consist of a whole number followed by a decimal. The whole
number indicates the student's proficiency level (1.0 = Entering, 5.0
= Bridging).
The decimal, ranging from 1-9, represents the progress within the
proficiency level that the student achieved. For example, 4.0 is the
lowest score in the Expanding proficiency level, while 4.9 is the
highest score before a student progresses into the Bridging
proficiency level.
ACCESS Tiers and scoring caps
The ACCESS assessment is broken into
three tiers (A, B or C) at each grade
level cluster.
Scores for the Tier A assessments are
capped at 4.0.
Scores for the Tier B assessments are
capped at 5.0.
The Tier C assessment is the only
assessment on which a student can
achieve a score from 1.0 to 6.0.
ACCESS criteria for exit
For the 2006-2007 school year, a
student with a composite score of 5.0
on a Tier B assessment or 5.0 or
higher on a Tier C assessment may
be exited after meeting the other PA
exit criteria previously described.
For subsequent years, only scores
above 5.0 on a Tier C assessment will
be acceptable for exit.
The maximum overall composite language
proficiency score that a student taking the
Kindergarten form of ACCESS can receive is 3.7.
To be considered for exit, a kindergarten student
must, at a minimum:
* have an oral language score of 3.8.
* have a composite proficiency score of 2.7.
Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, the
ACCESS kindergarten assessment score range
will be 1.0 to 6.0 and the same exit criteria as all
other grade level clusters will apply.
IDEA Language Proficiency Tests (IPT) - English
The IDEA Proficiency Tests were designed to evaluate
proficiency in English for children from the age of 3 years
through the 12th grade.
The Reading/Writing test may be given independently of the
Oral test, but both tests would be needed for an overall
assessment of language ability.
The Oral Proficiency tests of English were designed to
determine the proficiency level of students who are native
speakers of other languages and who are being considered
for placement in Limited English Proficient programs.
These tests are administered individually using an easelstyle book with pictures which correspond to test questions.
The domains tested are Syntax, Morphological Structure,
Lexical Items, Phonological Structure, Comprehension, and
Oral Production.
More about the IPT
Examinees continue progressing through levels of
difficulty until they reach their proficiency ceiling.
The resulting classifications are Non-, Limited, or
Fluent English-Speaking. There are three levels of
the Oral tests: The Pre-IPT (ages 3-5); The IPT 1
(K-6); and the IPT 2 (grades 7-12). The Pre-IPT
has a Spanish version which should be used to
assess the oral Spanish language proficiency of
pre-school children whose first language is
The Reading and Writing tests in English are used
to assess the reading and writing skills of children
with other native languages for placement
The IPT continued
These Reading tests include multiple-choice items
in several domains: 1) Vocabulary, in which one of
four words is chosen to describe a picture, 2)
Vocabulary in Context, in which one of four words
is chosen to complete a sentence, 3) Reading and
Understanding, in which a prose passage is
followed by related comprehension questions like
those in Vocabulary in Context, 4) Reading for Life
Skills, which has the same format as Reading and
Understanding, but uses product labels, street
signs, and popular print , and 5) Language Usage
which emphasizes grammar and punctuation used
in writing. Scoring may be done by hand or by
The IPT continued
The Writing tests have three sections: 1)
Conventions, in which a multiple-choice
sentence completion task tests knowledge
in writing conventions like capitalization,
punctuation, and abbreviations, 2) Write a
Story, in which the examinee writes a few
sentences to describe a picture story, and
3) Write Your Own Story, in which the
examinee writes a brief argumentative
essay or a short narrative paragraph,
depending on the level.
Levels of the IPT
Examinees taking both the Reading and
the Writing test may be given either the
Language Usage portion of the Reading
test or the Conventions portion of the
Writing test, but not both.
The Reading/Writing tests have three
levels: The IPT 1 (grades 2,3), the IPT 2
(grades 4-6), and the IPT 3 (grades 7-12).
Scoring of the writing samples is done
using a set of rubrics and examples of
student writing for each level of scoring.
Norming studies and estimates of reliability
and validity are available for all of the tests.
But what about the State test?
The Pennsylvania Department of
Education has the W-APT for
entry/screening for students OR
districts may use other tests for
entry/screening purposes.
Once students are in the ESL
program, they can only exit using the
state test, the ACCESS test and other
ACCESS as exit tool
NOW PDE has adopted the ACCESS test
as the exit/screening tool for ELL
It is given mid-year. Check out this site.
You may wonder what tests will work best
as a screening tool for your district? Create
an evaluation checklist to help you decide.
To evaluate Assessment tools
It is important to create a checklist to assist with the selection
of an English language proficiency test. The items on the
checklist should parallel the categories used to describe
each test. Information about the test purpose, its method of
administration, the cost, the time it takes to administer the
test and so forth should be considered and rated for each of
the 4 language modalities (listening, speaking, reading, and
writing). Be sure to make a column for an overall rating as
well. This checklist can be used for rating any language
proficiency test or assessment. Some tests will not assess all
4 language modalities in which case you will check rate only
the modality columns on the checklist appropriate for that
Use the checklist as you review the "examination" kit for any
test. Most test publishers will allow a 30 day examination
period free of charge. Simply contact the publisher and ask
them for a test examination kit.
Are there other assessments?
Teacher created regular assessments such
as quizzes, tests, projects based on rubrics
Textbook assessments
Grades, progress reports
Provide multiple ways to assess in line with
student strengths and rubrics to help
student know what is expected of them
along the way.
Check out this site for a multitude of tests
and information on assessments:
ESL Assessment for K-12

ESL Assessment K-12