BILED 717_Perrone_Fall08 - Hunter College

Spring 2008
Language Assessment for English Language Learners
Hunter College School of Education, Department of Curriculum and Teaching
Bilingual Education MA Program, BILED 717
Michael Perrone
Meeting Day/Time: Thursday, 7:40 pm-10:10 pm
Office Hours:
By appointment
Course Website:
(212) 453-5397 (work)
(718) 640-7008 (cell)
Fall 2008
General Course Description
Language assessment is a 3 credit course designed to cover a broad range of language assessment
issues. The goal is provide teachers of bilingual education a basic foundation in language assessment
issues, and give them the tools to create valid classroom tests that not only reliably measure student
achievement and proficiency, but also serve to help guide instructional decisions. A variety of issues
will be covered including the following:
1. Different Types of Language Tests (diagnostic, placement, proficiency, and
2. Norm- and criterion-referenced testing
3. Key concepts in assessment (including validity, reliability, and practicality)
4. Alternative forms of assessment (portfolios, journals, authentic assessment
performance assessment)
5. Formative and summative assessment
A particular area of focus will be curriculum-based testing, since the primary focus of this course will
be on the assessment of elementary school learners, although attention will also be given to the
assessment of adult learners. In addition, standards-based assessment and standardized tests that
ELLs might encounter are addressed.
Specific Course Objectives:
Have a solid understanding of the different types of language tests, including proficiency,
achievement, placement, and diagnostic tests.
Have a basic understanding of some of the statistical concepts concerning language tests,,
including mean, standard deviation, reliability, and discrimination.
Be able to develop and utilize alternative forms of language assessment beyond traditional
tests, including portfolios, journals, authentic assessment, and performance assessment.
Be able to apply knowledge of assessment theory to:
a. develop and write practical and measurable objectives for language learning
b. develop test items that effectively measure the language learning objectives
c. apply notions of language learning and instruction to the development of assessment
Have the knowledge to analyze and critique large-scale standardized tests that are presently
required in many institutions and the issues related to these tests.
Enter and analyze collected data through SPSS
How this course addresses the Hunter College Conceptual Framework:
As a requirement in the teacher candidate’s course of study to become an ESL teacher, this course
requires that the candidate choose a specific area of language assessment to investigate in depth, and
to write it up in the form of an academic paper. This research topic may address any, or several, of the
areas of the Conceptual Framework, including:
1. Urban Context, by investigated different areas of language learning experienced by
students in an urban context, and the effect that standardized testing has on students in this
2. Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions, by applying a knowledge of language, second
language acquisition, and second language assessment;
3. Caring Learning Community, by investigating language issues that bilingual students
from many different language backgrounds must learn; or
4. Social Justice, by investigating some of the background variables of the bilingual students
that might affect their performance on different standardized tests, and that will cause the
students to become advocates for fair, reliable, and valid tests, which helps to ensure that
ESL students will have better access to educational opportunities in society.
Class Activities:
This class will include a combination of lectures, interactive discussion, pairwork, and small group
work. Active student participation in discussions and small groups is an integral part of this class.
Required Textbooks:
Brown, H.D. (2004). Language assessment: Principles and classroom practices. White Plains, NY.
Longman Education.
Brown, J.D. (2005). Testing in language programs: A Comprehensive Guide to English Language
Assessment. Upper Saddle River, NY: Prentice Hall Regents.
Additional Required Readings:
Additional readings will be assigned as required
Course Structure:
The class will include lectures, teacher-led discussions, student presentations, and out-of-class reading
and writing. Active student participation in discussions and small groups is a key part of the class.
Study Groups:
Students are encouraged to form study groups to review readings, study together for tests, brainstorm
ideas, etc. For some activities, students will be asked to work with partners or in groups to complete
Email Communication:
Please check your email frequently in this course. This will be my way of communicating with you
during “off” hours. I check my email daily and will respond to any email within a day, unless I am
without internet access.
Grading Information:
You are expected to come to class prepared. Before class, you should have done all the class
readings, worked on the homework problems, and checked your email for any clarifications or
On-time Attendance, Class Preparation, and Participation in Class/Group Discussions:
Part 1 of Project
Homework assignments and quizzes
Part 2 of Project (Midterm Project)
Part 3 of Project (Final Project)
Oral Presentations of Final Project
****Weekly attendance in the class is critical. Except in exceptional circumstances, students will not
be permitted to miss more than two classes. If you must be absent or late, please let me know and
make arrangements with another student to get class handouts and to help you with the information
that you missed. Please come to class on time.
Late Papers:
Students are strongly urged to submit all work by the due date. There will be a grade deduction for
late submissions. Papers more than one week late will not be accepted. No late papers will be
accepted for Part 3 of the final paper.
Group Work in Class:
Students are expected to actively and fully participate in group work in class. Failure to do so will
result in the lowering of your overall course grade.
Class Project:
The project has three parts:
1) Designing a set of language learning objectives
2) Developing an assessment instrument to determine if a real class has actually met these
3) Administering the assessment instrument to a real class of English language learners. Then,
the assessment instrument will be evaluated as an assessment tool. The three parts of the
assessment tool make up 70% of the class grade.
Academic Honesty: (p. 12 of the Graduate Catalog)
Any deliberate borrowing of the ideas, terms, statements, or knowledge of others without clear and
specific acknowledgement of the source is intellectual theft and is called plagiarism. It is not
plagiarism to borrow the ideas, terms, statements, or knowledge of others if the source is clearly
and specifically acknowledged. Students who consult such critical material and wish to include
some of the insights, terms, or statements encountered must provide full citations in an appropriate
form. For this class, APA style will be the required format. Please see the class website for more
information on APA style.
“Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations,
obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious
offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the
CUNY POLICY on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to
the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.”
Access and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:
We recommend that all HC students with disabilities explore the support services and register with
the OOFICE FOR ACCESS and ACCOMODATIONS. HC students with disabilities are
protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that they be provided
equal access to education and reasonable accommodations. In compliance with the ADA and with
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Hunter is committed to ensuring this education access and
accommodations. For information and assistance, contact the OFFICE FOR ACCESS and
ACCOMODATIONS in RoomE1124 or call (212) 772-4857 or TTY (212) 650-3230.
Expectations for Written Proficiency:
Students must demonstrate consistently satisfactory written English in coursework. The Hunter
College Writing Center provides tutoring to students across the curriculum and at all academic
levels. For more information, see In addition, the Teacher Placement
Office in the School of Education offers a writing workshop during the semester and a series of
free writing classes are offered to students who are in need of additional support in honing their
writing skills. In both cases, stop by Room 1000West for information and dates of workshops.