Using Literacy Assessment Results to Improve Teaching for English-Language Learners

Authors


E-mail lhelman@umn.edu.

Abstract

This article focuses on how data from early literacy assessments can help teachers to better instruct English-language learning students. Data from 52 high-risk schools are used to compare the progress of English learners and English-only students on a variety of literacy assessments. Results reveal that a much higher percentage of Spanish-speaking students remain at the beginning reading level throughout the primary grades. A close-up look at the responses of two of these Spanish-speaking beginning readers provides teachers with insights into what is difficult for English learners, what they grasp more easily, and how they may use background knowledge in Spanish to tackle literacy tasks in English. While similarities in the students' results show they will profit from some of the same developmental activities, the samples also point out how their instructional needs vary. This analysis models the way in which literacy assessments can support a deeper understanding of the strategies and needs of English learners. Educators are encouraged to use literacy assessments to identify individuals and groups of students that require additional support, and provide enriched learning opportunities at their developmental level that build on students' background understandings.

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