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Will Online ELL Tests Improve Assessment Abilities?

by Corey Mitchell

Education Week

Article excerpt

As ELL Tests Move Online, Educators Hope for Better Gauge of Skills

Two computer-based tests of English-language proficiency will debut this school year, ushering in a new era of online testing for millions of the nation’s English-learners. Leaders of the federally funded consortia that developed the exams are hopeful the tests will offer a more complete picture of how English-learners are grasping the language.

Our take

Looking for Lessons Learned From Two Online Proficiency Assessment Initiatives

In November, WIDA (the World Class Instructional Design Assessment Consortium), launched an online language assessment test – ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 – to aid in the evaluation of English learning proficiency. Another initiative, ELPA 21 (English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century), will roll out in February and March. Could these initiatives provide a use case for other ways in which technology can be used to test for proficiency?

They may, and it may be helpful to compare the two initiatives to identify best practices. Barriers remain, though: equal access to technology and Internet access—issues that remain problematic for school systems, especially those serving remote geographies or students from economically challenged families.