Educational assessment policy must produce measures of performance that are fair and accurate for all students in order to convey clear and helpful information to educators, parents, and the students themselves. Achieving these objectives is especially challenging when it comes to the nation’s 5 million K-12 public school English learners (ELs). English learners are linguistic-minority students not sufficiently proficient in English to be able to benefit adequately from regular classroom instruction and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities using English. In California more than half of the children now entering public schools come from households where the first language is not English, and nearly 1.5 million are currently English Learners.
In this seminar Robert Linquanti discusses how next-generation state assessment and accountability systems can be made more responsive to the needs and strengths of ELs. Linquanti argues that innovation must be grounded in a clear understanding of the EL population, as well as of English language proficiency and its relationship to academic subject matter learning and assessment. He explains how the common core standards “push the envelope” for ELs and educators, and argues that comprehensive assessment systems can and must strengthen teacher pedagogical practice with ELs. Finally, he suggests ways in which California educational leaders and policymakers can exert national leadership on these issues.