Testing Accommodations for ESL Students

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  • 0:04 Providing Accomodations
  • 0:30 Common Testing Accomodations
  • 2:44 Lesson Summary
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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 of English as a Second Language (ESL) students will learn about providing accommodations for their students during testing. An overview of common accommodations will be included.

Providing Accommodations

ESL students take a variety of tests every school year, including state-mandated standardized assessments, placement tests, and classroom exams. In order for these students to demonstrate what they've learned over the course of a school year, they may need extra support while taking these assessments. Otherwise, their language barrier may prevent them from showing their knowledge and understanding.

Let's look at some common testing accommodations for ESL students.

Common Testing Accommodations

Read Text Aloud

One of the most essential accommodations that you can provide ESL students with is reading a test aloud. If a test is measuring reading comprehension, simply reading the instructions can have a huge impact on student performance. If a test is measuring some other skill, such as writing, you can read the entire text, including reading passages.

Bilingual Dictionary

Some students may benefit from the use of a bilingual dictionary, especially for reading and writing assessments. Keep in mind that students with very limited English proficiency will not benefit from this accommodation, since they will not be able to look up or correctly use words in English. Similarly, students who are not literate in their native languages won't benefit from this accommodation either.

Simplified Language

You can create a second version of an assessment using simplified instructions. This will allow an ESL student to focus only on the main concepts of a test and not get confused by extraneous language. To illustrate this, consider the following examples:

  • Read the following passage about a girl who encounters a wolf while walking through the woods on the way to her grandmother's house. When you have finished reading, write a comprehensive summary of the passage.
  • Read the following story, 'Little Red Riding Hood.' Then, write a 5-8 sentence summary of the story.

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