Assessment of English learners: guidelines for best practice

The authors shared a collaborative and equal partnership in the responsibility of developing and completing all areas of this project, which reviews current research on best practice methods and tools in the assessment and making of special education decisions in relation to English Learners (ELs). Despite having some guidelines and legislation at the national and state levels to inform our practice, valid and unbiased assessment of ELs continues to present a challenge for school psychologists. This issue also continues to be a topic of concern given that ELs as a student population are often over-identified as requiring special education support and have overall poorer educational outcomes than their non-EL peers. The purpose of this project is to provide school psychologists and special education program specialists with tools and methods that can be used to conduct fair, unbiased, and valid results that can be used in the high-stakes decisions regarding the need for special education supports. The workshop will provide information about the following topics and areas: current guidelines for assessing ELs, the typical process of second language acquisition, important variables to consider in an EL assessment, and best practice methods and tools for EL assessment. Attendees will also learn about how to use tools such as the Multidimensional Assessment Model for Bilingual Individuals, the Culture-Language Test Classifications, the Culture-Language Interpretive Matrix, and Alvarado’s Four-Step Process. The project is a full-day, six-hour Power Point training workshop for school psychologists and special education program specialists. Also provided as part of the workshop are the following materials: A presenter’s manual with all slides and presenter instructions for each slide, several handouts, as well as two case study examples. Implementation of the presentation can occur by any school psychologist. The purpose of the workshop is to inform and provide current research to attendees on the topics of fair and valid assessment of ELs and to teach the use of several methods and tools to use in order to achieve this purpose as well as to achieve the overall goal of improving appropriate identification of ELs for special education.