Performance-Based Assessments for English Language Learners

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  • 0:04 Performance-Based Assessments
  • 0:44 Performance-Based vs.…
  • 1:41 Content Areas
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn about implementing performance-based assessments in the classroom. Performance-based assessments are ideal for English language learner (ELL) students who have limited English proficiency.

Performance-Based Assessments

A performance-based assessment is a type of assessment that requires students to perform a task using skills learned in class. It differs from traditional standardized and multiple choice tests in which students normally answer questions about how to do those skills. A performance-based assessment allows learners to demonstrate their learning authentically, and provides reliable information about their content knowledge.

This type of assessment is ideal for ELL students with limited English proficiency because, to some extent, any ELL can demonstrate his or her knowledge using the performance-based approach. The language barrier does not exclude them from being able to demonstrate their understanding.

Performance-Based vs. Traditional

The main difference between traditional and performance-based assessments is that traditional assessments ask students questions about how to do what they've learned. In contrast, performance-based assessments ask students to actually do what they've learned.

For example, let's say that students have been learning about the scientific method in science class. A traditional assessment might be a paper-based multiple choice test that asks students to select the best answer for each question. In theory, it would measure how well students understand how to do what they've learned.

Instead, what if you asked students to do a science experiment using the scientific method, forming a hypothesis and then conducting the steps to test it? Since this type of assessment would require little reading or writing, ELL students would be more likely to demonstrate their understanding of the process.

Let's take a look at some examples of performance-based assessments that teachers can use to assess ELL students in the content-area classroom.

Content Areas

Let's start with some performance-based assessments teachers can use in language arts. For example, after reading a story in class, students could write a letter to a friend to summarize the story, write a letter from one character to another in the story, or assume the role of one of the characters and write a series of journal entries to describe the character's thoughts and feelings.

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