Formative Assessments for ELL Students

Instructor: Jesse Richter

Jesse holds two masters, a doctorate and has 15 years of academic experience in areas of education, linguistics, business and science across five continents.

Need some new ideas or just a refresher about formative assessment methods for ELL students? This lesson introduces the concept of formative assessment and offers practical strategies for implementation.

The Assessment Dilemma

As teachers, we know that students must be assessed to inform our own instruction and also to measure learning. Most schools require assessments that document numerical data such as statistics and percentages. Unfortunately, these sorts of assessments are usually reserved for prescribed times throughout the year and do not capture what happens on a day-to-day basis. Effective teachers require more information to truly support learners, especially those who are learning English in addition to academic concepts. How can we ensure that these students are continually learning before standardized tests are administered? Formative assessment methods help us to answer this question.

What Is Formative Assessment?

Formative assessment methods allow the teacher to ensure student comprehension through ongoing, flexible and qualitative data collection during the learning process. For example, you, as the teacher, may ask a student to briefly restate or summarize a concept in his or her own words following instruction. This is in contrast with traditional summative assessment methods, which typically take the form of standardized tests, quizzes, essays, multiple choice, fill-in blanks and short answer formats. Summative assessments are administrated after the learning process (e.g. at the end of a quarter or semester). Let us now take a tour through some proven formative assessment methods.

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