ESL Assessments


ACT Placement Tests

This collection of placement assessments are great as it provides four areas to assess students upon, to give guidance as to which class they should be included. These assessments may seem very daunting to a child who is asked to complete all of them at once, I would recommend giving them time to do them over four days so that they are not misplaced. The downfalls of these assessments is that they do not provide for interaction or communication of any kind. THe student is exposed to the input and expected to have output without interaction. If this became the standard for placing all students in the school or district that would be more beneficial to provide a constant across the placements. It seems as though this would be an integrative assessment as it includes a variety of tasks, but some key aspects of ESL are missing, and it does not provide feedback geared for the student. This is a good source to use as it is practical and does not allow for biases when placing a child. However, if they did not test well and were placed according to that score, they may not be challenged. Frequent assessment should be done as a follow up to ensure the accuracy of the placement.

The COMPASS ESL tests allow you to test non-native English speakers' abilities in four areas: Listening, Reading, Grammar/Usage and Essay. Then they may be placed in the most appropriate ESL course.
The ESL tests are on the U.S. Department of Education's list of approved ATB tests and passing scores.

Diagnostic Flow Chart

Annotation: This flow chart is a great assessment visual to check students' understanding and their level. After assessments have been done, the teacher may use this chart to decide if the student needs to take the test and if so, which parts. It helps to sort, in a sense, the students based on their abilities. It somewhat practical in that it would help, but only if the test is something that the school utilizes for further diagnosis. Also, it is authentic in that this is the process that should be done in the teachers' mind, but this provides a visual to follow. It does not provide washback for the students, and does not really engage the student. I am not certain that I would be able to use this in the future because it is very situation specific.

            This flow chart gives the teacher a flow chart to follow based on their knowledge of the student and their exposure to the language. It begins with identifying an English Language Learner (ELL) and ending with which how much of the AYP a student should take.


Beat the Teacher

This activity can be used to check students understanding as a class to either assess how much they have learned or how in depth the following lessons need to be. It can be made very authentic and catered for any aspect of language assessment. The example given deals with grammar. It is practical because it is an informal assessment that provides feedback and allows the students to work as teams. It also provides a great wrap up for the day and disguises the material in a game. The students will love to participate and play, which encourages them to learn and correct each other, allowing students to answer all the questions in their head. Then after playing, students may be split into groups based upon ability.

Objective: lesson revision

If you tutor a student one on one then this game is perfect for revision of your previous lessons, as well as finding out how much the student may already know. It's a form of Naughts and Crosses or as the Americans would call it - Tick Tack Toe.

Before your lesson write down as many questions that you can think of to ask your student and number them 1 to whatever.

  1. What is the simple past tense word for Run?
  2. What is an Abstract noun?
  3. etc...
Ask your student to draw the nine squared naughts and crosses grid by overlaping two horizontal and two vertical lines.

Let's say, you thought of 60 questions to ask your student. Ask your student to write down on a piece of paper the numbers 1 to 60.

The student first chooses a number from their list of numbers. Let's say for example, the student chooses number 3, then question number 3 on your question list is the question you will ask them. Note: after the student chooses a number they have to mark it off their list, so that, that question can only be asked once.

You ask the student the question. If they get it right then they get to place their naught or cross, whichever symbol they choose, in whichever square they like on the grid.

But, if the student gets it wrong then the teacher places their symbol in whichever square they like. If the student gives an incorrect answer then don't forget to tell them the correct answer afterwards. The game goes on like this until the winner gets three symbols in a row.

This game is great for the teacher because it gives them an idea of how much the student has retained from previous lessons, and also, what they already know. My student likes playing this game because she beats this teacher - a lot!

Short Pop Quiz

Oral Quiz

This assessment checks the students ability to answer short questions in a full sentence using vocabulary that they should have acquired. This would be administered either as a pop quiz where each student needs to answer all questions or as a popcorn style pop quiz where each student gets a different question. It tests vocabulary and grammar, and their ability to verbally produce the language. It is very authentic if the teacher chooses questions that the students would experience. It is common for someone to ask you how old you are, or how old, or where they are from. It would also be practical if the teacher administered to begin or end a class, recording their scores. If he/she wanted them to answer all the questions, she could work this into a center in the classroom and give each student an amount of time to answer all the questions. However, this would someone disadvantage the first group as the other groups may have a little more time to prepare. If the teacher alternated who went first throughout the year, then it would be okay. This could be rather summative if the teacher included questions from previous units as well. This would not provide a lot of washback, unless she gave them corrective feedback after they finished their quiz, so s/he knew what s/he did wrong.

This is a test assessment that requires students to know basic responses, or may be used at a higher level with more in depth vocabulary. These questions may be as simple as asking their age, or more complicated, such as who is has played a major role in your life and why? Any questions that ask a why or open ended question will illicit a more lengthy response rather than a simple rehearsed answer. It is possible to offer this as a prepared assessment where the students are able to study and prepare, unknowing which questions they will actually get. Otherwise, it could be a pop-quiz type of test after teaching a lesson. All answers must be in a complete sentence.

Sample questions:
How old are you?
Where are you from?
How are you?
What is your favorite sport and why?
Where do you live?
What is your favorite place to visit?

Short Pop Quiz

This is a pop quiz that would be given to students to check their understanding of possessive pronouns. It is not very authentic as once this ability is acquired, native speakers do not focus on switching from nouns to pronouns, but rather use one or the other. Once this is acquired, then it will come naturally, and the individual will not make a conscious effort to transform the noun. However, in regards to the assessment quality, it is a great formal assessment that is quick and easy to administer. It is focused on just one aspect of language, so it keeps it simple and allows students to focus on just their knowledge of nouns and possessive nouns. Unless these are discussed afterward, it would not provide a great deal of washback and would be more for the teacher's knowledge to check where his/her students are. This is a grammatical skill that needs to be acquired.

Directions: Identify whether the underlined phrase is a noun or a possessive pronoun.  Write “N” for a noun and a “P” for a possessive pronoun.
1)    Their cat is really mean.  I never go near it.    ____N____

2)    -Whose pencil is this? 
-Oh that’s mine.                ____P____

3)    –Is that your book or Stephen’s?        ____N_____
-It’s his. He lent it to me last week.        ____P_____

Change the underlined nouns into personal pronouns.
 Sarah’s dog is really big and Mike’s dog is really small, but they get along great!
___Hers is really big and his is really small, but they get along great! __

Final Exam

This is an assessment that is administered to each individual and is usually a written exam that incoporates writing, reading, listening, and speaking. It is lengthy and takes a much longer amount of time. They are generally summative of a unit that was taught.

ESL Level 4 Final Exam

An online final exam provides the students with a different format for their ESL assessment. It is great that they are able to take it on the computer as it provides a paperless exam, then print their results, and the teacher is able to view their answers. It is not anonymous as the student needs to write their name before they begin. It is extremely practical as the teacher could continue teaching for the day while students complete their exams one by one, depending on how many computers are available. However, it would be recommended to have a parent come to make sure they typed in the right name and were not using the internet for answers. The questions seem somewhat authentic, but scattered without a system as to how they are asked. A teacher created this exam, but the website could be used to create an individual one for a class. At the end, students are able to see the questions they missed and what the correct answers are.

This exam provides questions online to be answered with a click, and are then tabulated and scored at the end.

"This is a mid level ESL final exam. The exam is comprised of 2nd to 3rd grade vocabulary words. Students at this level can form sentences in simple present and past. And are writing 4 to 6 sentence paragraphs utilizing simple verbs."

An example of the Score Report

High School Exam

This final exam is geared toward a higher proficiency of language learners. It includes a great variety of tasks to really evaluate where a student is in their learning. This exam is summative in nature as it includes many topics, tasks, and skills that need to be acquired. A final exam is probably the most efficient and practical way to assess students understanding over an entire unit. To provide more washback and better feedback, it may help to split up the parts of the exam to be taken at different times so that the students do not make errors out of fatigue. However, the nature of this assessment is to be taken all together in a lengthy manner. Without reviewing answers, which most teachers do not, a final exam does not fully explain the errors that students make, so that the errors would then be repeated again - negative washback occurs.

Part 1: Listening. Students will listen to the following paragraph and then answer the questions.


Part 2: Reading. Students will read the passage independently and answer the following questions.


Part 3: Writing

Directions: Pick a topic from the list below and write a one-page essay (about 300 words) defending your answer.  Use the provided sheet of paper for your answer.
1)    Your best friend from your home country wants to know if he/she should come visit you in the US.  Convince him/her to visit or stay home.
2)    Your mother wants you to attend a summer camp over the vacation.  Do you want to go?  Convince her to see your side of the argument.
3)    Which do you feel is more important: academic ability or physical ability (ie. Sports)?  Convince someone who does not agree with you.
Note: When you have completed the other sections of this assessment, turn in all your materials.  This completes the written portion of the exam.