English Language Learners (ELLs) represent a diverse group of students who know English in varying degrees when they enter U.S. schools. It takes a number of years for a student who does not know English upon entry to U.S. schools to become fluent and able to use English effectively and independently in academic settings.
ELLs participate in state assessments in several ways based on participation criteria, which should be available on the Texas Education Agency website in fall 2011. Under the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), ELLs could take regular tests in English, a Spanish version of STAAR in grades 3-5, a STAAR test with linguistic accommodations (STAAR L), the STAAR Modified test or the STAAR Alternate assessment.
ELLs also participate in the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS), a federally-required program that provides an annual measure of student progress in learning the English language. Student performance on TELPAS may also determine the student’s eligibility for particular STAAR assessments.
All ELLs will participate in STAAR (no exemptions will be granted by TEA). The graphic below displays the Linguistic Accommodations for ELLs (3–8 and EOC). It is important to note that an ELL whose parent or guardian declines bilingual/ESL program services outlined in state law is not eligible for special ELL assessment, accommodation, or accountability provisions.
Additionally, special provisions will be provided for English I and II EOCs for ELLs who have been enrolled in U.S. schools 3 school years or less (5 or less if qualifying unschooled asylee/refugee) and have not yet attained TELPAS advanced high reading rating. When enrolled in English I or II/ESOL I or II course, the eligible ELLs shall not be required to: include assessment score in cumulative score for graduation; retake assessment each time it is administered if student passes course but does not achieve minimum score; or have score count for 15% of student’s final grade. Please note that these students are not exempt from taking the test while in the course, and these provisions do not apply to English III.
Spanish versions of STAAR for grades 3-5 will be developed in each grade and subject assessed by the STAAR English versions. The Spanish versions will be comparable to the English-version tests in content, rigor, and achievement standards. Spanish versions of STAAR for grades 3-5 will be implemented in spring 2012.
Linguistically accommodated versions of STAAR – currently referred to as STAAR L – are being developed for eligible ELLs in grades 3-8 and high school in math, science and social studies. In order to participate in STAAR L, the student’s maximum number of years in U.S. schools is three years unless the student is an asylee or refugee, which provides a maximum of five years. A student will not be eligible for STAAR L once an advanced high rating is attained on the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) reading test.
ELLs not eligible to take STAAR L may be provided with limited linguistic accommodations, such as bilingual dictionaries, on the regular STAAR tests.
Computer-based STAAR L tests should be implemented in spring 2013, therefore, a paper version will be administered before then. The future online testing environment of STAAR L will include English language assistance based on the students’ language proficiency level. For example, students will be able to click on some English words to see definitions, synonyms and pictures to help with comprehension. Additionally, students may click on some words, phrases, part of a test question or an entire test question to hear the text read aloud.
The Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) will be adjusted as needed to ensure a strong link between academic language proficiency as defined by TELPAS and academic achievement as defined by STAAR.