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Assessing EAL students in the curriculum

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by atlaragione, May 28, 2019.

  1. Dear all,

    I am doing a bit of research into how teachers assess EAL students who struggle to access the curriculum, and I'm keen to gain a wider, more personal response.

    My primary questions are to do with the validity of assessing subject specific skills and knowledge of EAL students using the same criteria as non-EAL students.

    Are there any schools that remove EAL students from mainstream assessment altogether?

    Are there any schools that assess EAL students using a different assessment rubric (as per MFL's usual practice of assessing students new to a language by a different scale, compared to those who have studied a language for longer) which allows them to achieve higher grades? If anyone does this, how do you deal with the jump from KS3 to 4 where everyone will be assessed by the same rubric?

    If the same criteria is used across the board, across the assessment tasks, how do you deal with peaks and troughs in EAL students' attainment? For example, in Drama, an EAL student may be very physically aware and have excellent physical control which would make them a high achiever in a physical theatre unit, whereas in a unit exploring and performing a script they would struggle due to the language barrier.

    Thank you in advance for any responses!
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Until GCSE approaches, isn't the primary function of assessment going to be to inform teaching? Who cares what numbers are going on a spreadsheet - what matters is that I know what they can and can't do, and support them on topics where language is hindering them.

    I teach maths, and at one point was in a school with a lot of new pupils coming in from overseas. I had a separate test for assessing new EAL students, which used no language (arithmetic, algebra, angles with question marks, shapes with ___ cm^2 next to them - in fact I offered them a choice of two, the harder containing advanced algebra for the Chinese/Koreans). That enabled me to get them in an appropriate set, and for the teacher to have a starting point. It didn't give me a level or forecast GCSE grade to give to SMT, but that shouldn't be the point.

    If you're assessing an individual unit of work, they get a score like anyone else, but why worry about the peaks/troughs if they're clearly language-related? The weaker aspects will improve as the child's English improves.

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