Interpreting Standardized ESOL Assessment Results

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

While standardized tests can offer many benefits, it's important to understand both the limitations of these tests and how to interpret the results. This lesson outlines how teachers can use and interpret standardized ESOL assessment results.

The Importance of Standardized Tests

In an ideal world, educators would be afforded the time and resources to focus on each student individually. However, because this isn't possible, standardized ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) assessments permit teachers and institutions to determine the skill levels and needs of non-native English-speaking students.

When used appropriately, standardized ESOL tests can benefit students, teachers, and institutions by providing a starting point for both placement and grading. Furthermore, these tests can help to determine a student's academic subject and language level and can identify areas that need improvement.

The Limitations of Standardized Tests

Most ESL (English as a Second Language) tests are designed to assess language skills such as reading comprehension or grammar conventions. Because of this focus, many ESOL tests do not account for the creative abilities or social language skills ESL students may possess.

Additionally, test anxiety may limit the accuracy of the results. Some students simply test poorly regardless of native language or academic ability. Even the brightest students can feel time pressures or blank on content they would be easily able to recall in a different situation. Also, ESL students can approach testing differently based on previous educational experience. Some cultures place exam taking high on the list of desired academic skills while others may focus more on other learning styles.

Lack of forehand knowledge of test format and strategies can also artificially lower test scores. For instance, two distinct standardized tests could have essay sections, but the essays may be testing different aspects of writing and have different grading criteria. Therefore, the amount of test preparation a student is given before taking an assessment should be considered.

Interpreting Test Results

ESOL tests that focus on writing ability and reading comprehension can be a great course placement tool. If your school divides students by ability rather than by age, ESOL placement tests results are beneficial but need to be viewed from a wide perspective. For instance, a student who excels in English language subjects may struggle in math or science and vice versa. This adds to the importance of having a clear academic plan that encompasses more than just test results.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account