Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Assessment is an important component in an education program. Current educational policy includes large scale assessments with stringent accountability requirements. All students are expected to meet standards for achievement, including those who have historically not been successful.

Students from non-English language backgrounds are one of the populations of students who do not achieve academic success at the same rate as other students. This population of students is increasing in our nation's schools, causing this achievement gap to be of greater concern. Added to the concern is the requirement that English Language Learners (ELLs) must meet rigorous standards in both academic achievement and English language proficiency.

The assessment of ELLs is controversial for a number of reasons. Language is highly complex and assessment must reflect that complexity. English language proficiency assessment has become a “high stakes” issue as school districts are held accountable for student progress in this area.

This research study examines the assessment of ELLs from the perspective of their teachers. Based on a theoretical foundation that supports a social constructivist view of Instruction and assessment, the research design involves mixed methods with a naturalistic perspective.

Ten teachers from three states participated in the study, involving interviews, a questionnaire and an online focus group. Themes emerged from the data documenting that teachers use a variety of assessment to understand ELLs, their background and the context of assessment influences their perspectives, teachers know about their students and their relationship with the large scales assessments and accountability is multifaceted and varied.

Several assertions and recommendations were developed from these findings. The passion teachers of ELLs have for their students supports them in maintaining a commitment despite challenges. The teachers have found a way to negotiate between assessment that is more holistic and the large scale high stakes tests. Teachers need to be supported in finding a voice in accountability systems. Assessments need to encompass holistic approaches to language. More research needs to be conducted on the construct of English language proficiency.

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Psychology Commons