<b> Forum for the discussion of assessment and testing of ESL/EFL students </b>
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
ESL teachers usually have to create or adapt our own tests for students. Sometimes it seems easier and/or more common to just take a “easy” workbook page as an afterthought. However, the best tests are usually produced when you go through the steps of creating clear objectives first and then creating the test to align to your objectives (and thus, your lessons). Once the first draft is created, it is helpful to have a trial, but likely too time consuming. So it is very important to go back and analyze the test after students had taken it to judge its reliability and validity. You can then make necessary adjustments to make the test a more useful assessment tool. However, with ELL students I think this analysis and adjustment phase is easy to dismiss for one simple reason: The individual needs of this populations varies so greatly; the content and standards year after year may remain the same, but since the needs of each individual student learning the content changes, likely the next year you'll have to adapt the test in some new way the following year. At least you will have a shell I suppose. Additionally, if you analyze the format or style of one test, you can analyze what worked for a specific student to design your test for the next unit of content. One thing is certain when teaching ELLs: Nothing will ever by cookie cutter or easy. (Of course, it is not cookie cutter or easy for mainstream teachers either—ELL teachers have a bit more individualizing to do, though.)
You are correct in saying that the ESL teacher will often have the responsibility of taking traditional tests and converting them into authentic, interesting, and appropriately challenging for the current ELL students in the class. Even if a test is not modified for the ELL students, I think it is extremely important to provide the students with immediate "wash back" (feedback) about their competence based on their performance on the test. A useful diagnosis of the student's strengths and weaknesses will often help them to self-evaluate their language learning skills and to self-monitor their progress. My students have always taken wash back and immediately applied the recommended areas of improvement to their language performance. I think allowing the students the opportunity to receive a diagnostic explanation about their skills gives them more control over their language learning experience.
I agree with what has been said, but I still question how much altering will be needed to the tests from one year to the next. I think new teachers would need to adjust their tests more often for the first few years of teaching until they really get the hang of the units or lessons. However, I think the process of revising the tests comes a little easier because either most of the kinks have been worked out or the students are prepared enough to take on the challenge of the test. Also, it is so beneficial to review the tests after giving them back to the students because, like TeacherScrev pointed out, students will be able to self monitor for the future because they want to do better. Another benefit of reviewing the tests together is students will be able to understand what the correct answer is and ask the teacher for help if the concept still isn't entirely understood.