Analyzing Results to Inform Instruction in ELL

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  • 0:04 Language vs. Content…
  • 1:06 How to Analyze Results
  • 3:17 What to Do With Your Analysis
  • 4:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

When you look at your students' scores or grades, you might wonder how you can use them to plan for lessons that lead to the academic progress of your students. This lesson discusses how you can analyze results and use them for lesson planning.

Language vs. Content Development

Kelli is a teacher of English Language Learners (ELLs). Kelli pays attention to the areas that affect the specific results her students get. For example, Kelli sees a student's grade is low due to lack of vocabulary. This way, she knows that she must assist the student with language development. Conversely, if Kelli sees that a student's results are low because the student does not have knowledge of a specific topic (for example, geography), then she focuses on working with the student's grade teacher to help the student with content knowledge. This means that you can also analyze the results your students get in order to plan your lessons. The key is to know how to analyze the results in order to differentiate a need for language development as opposed to content development. Language development is the progress students make in regards to a language (English, in this case). Conversely, content development has to do with the the progress students make in acquiring knowledge of specific subjects (for example, math and science).

How to Analyze Results

Now let's look at the areas you can analyze to determine whether the issue is language development or content development. For example, Kelli's student takes an assessment that includes some science basic knowledge. Kelli is not clear yet about whether the grade is low due to poor language skills, as in writing skills, or to content issues, as is knowledge of science. The strategies you can use to make this differentiation include the following.

Ask Yourself Questions

You can ask yourself questions like, 'What area is the assessment testing?' or 'Does the student mostly need language skills to do well in the test or mostly content knowledge?' The answers to questions like these allow you to differentiate on what the students need to work on based on their results.

Identify Low Scoring Areas

You can easily find in graded assessments the part in which the student got the lowest result. This indicates where the student needs help. For instance, Kelli realizes her student wrote well in English, but the answers show the student does not know the topic. Thus, this is not a language development issue but rather a content issue.

Look at Different Results

Instead of focusing just on one result, you could look at different results for the same student testing over the same skill. For example, Kelli sees one of her students didn't do well in a writing assessment that requires a fair knowledge of postmodern literature. Rather than immediately deciding to plan a lesson to focus on writing skills, Kelli looks at the results in other assessments that involve writing. This makes Kelli realize the problem is not language but content. Sometimes you need to do this because a student could perform poorly in one assessment but then do great in another for the same area. Factors like emotions, personal problems, misunderstanding, test layout, content knowledge, etc. can influence a result.

Discuss Results With Content Teachers

You can always speak to your colleagues who teach other subjects to analyze the results students get in assessments. The reason to do this is that content teachers can give you a wider perspective of how much knowledge students are acquiring on a specific subject.

What to Do With Your Analysis

Once you differentiate between language development and content needs, you can apply several different approaches. You can do these lesson modifications for the whole class or work with individual students.

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