Student Oral Language Observation Matrix (SOLOM

)

The SOLOM is not a test per se. A test is a set of structured tasks given in a standard
way. The SOLOM is a rating scale that teachers can use to assess their students'
command of oral language on the basis of what they observe on a continual basis in a
variety of situations - class discussions, playground interactions, encounters between
classes. The teacher matches a student's language performance in a five mains - listening
comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, grammar, and pronunciation - to descriptions on a
five-point scale for each (See Figure 1). The scores for individual domains can be
considered, or they can be combined into a total score with a range of five through 25,
where approximately 19 or 20 can be considered proficient. SOLOM scores represent
whether a student can participate in oral language tasks typically expected in the
classroom at his or her grade level.

Because it describes a range of proficiency from non-proficient to fluent, the SOLOM
can be used to track annual progress. This, in turn, can be used in program evaluation,
and as some of the criteria for exit from alternative instructional programs. However, to
be used for these purposes, it is important to ensure that all teachers who use it undergo
reliability training so that scores are comparable across teachers. For this purpose, a
training video has been produced by Montebello School District in California.

The SOLOM does not require a dedicated testing situation. To complete it, teachers
simply need to know the criteria for the various ratings and observe their students'
language practices with those criteria in mind. Therein lies the greatest value of the
SOLOM and similar approaches:

• it fixes teachers' attention on language-development goals;
• it keeps them aware of how their students are progressing in relation to those
goals; and
• it reminds them to set up oral-language-use situations that allow them to observe
the student, as well as provide the students with language-development activities.

While observing, teachers should be attuned to the specific features of a student's speech
that influenced their rating. They can use this information as a basis of instruction. The
SOLOM is sufficiently generic to be applicable to other language besides English.
The SOLOM is not commercially published. It was originally developed by the San Jose
Area Bilingual Consortium and has undergone revisions with leadership from the
Bilingual Education Office of the California Department of Education. It is within the
public domain and can be copied, modified, or adapted to meet local needs.



Directions for Administering the SOLOM:

Based on your observation of the student, indicate with an "X" across the category which
best describes the student's abilities.

• The SOLOM should only be administered by persons who themselves score at
level "4" or above in all categories in the language being assessed.
• Students scoring at level "1" in all categories can be said to have no proficiency in
the language.

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