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Cap Paper III: High Stakes Testing and English Language Learners Sarah Schmidt de Carranza Minnesota State University, Mankato

HIGH STAKES TESTING AND ELL STUDENTS CAP Paper: High Stakes Testing for ELL Learners Summary The article High Stakes Testing: Issues, Implications, and Remedies for English Language Learners by Ronald W. Solrzano reviews and discusses a wide body of research regarding accountability, testing, and the effects of the aforementioned on English Language Learner (ELL) students. The article examines the myriad problems that arise when accountability for ELL students and teachers is measured using tests that are not designed for these learners. Because these tests do not take into account the students linguistic development, the results may not be valid or reliable for this population. The author, however, maintains that measuring student grown and progress is essential; but that it is the way in which this is done that must be clarified in order to achieve a meaningful result (Solrzano, 162). Overall, the use of high stakes testing creates a wide variety of problem for ELL learners. Some of the issues included in this article include test bias with respect to validity, (Solrzano, 2008, p.300) the ethical issues of ELL, inclusion in testing, as well as accommodations for students (Solrzano, 2008, 306). The author maintains that students should be assessed to determine student growth and progress, however, to use tests that are not designed with the ELL student in mind is neither valid nor fair. (Solrzano, 2008, 295). Solrzano (2008) also discusses the ethical problems that arise from ELL retention and exclusion from graduation. His final conclusion is that the punitive results of using high-stakes tests as the sole measure for graduation, promotion, or measuring success of any kind outweigh the benefit for this particular subgroup of students (Solrzano, 2008, p. 319).

HIGH STAKES TESTING AND ELL STUDENTS Critique and Implications Solrzano completes a very comprehensive literature review and meta-analysis of practices related to the issue of ELL students in testing. A particular strength of this article was the analysis and summarization of findings. The organization and rationale/justification for including so much information made the information more comprehensible to the reader. The data and results were included in a well-organized and complete data table, following the APA style. There is a wealth of research compiled in this article, and it is noteworthy to report that it confirms findings in other articles and reports. For example, this article reiterates that highstakes testing for ELL students creates a new and unique set of problems rather than a solution. According to Manna (2011), One specific tension ELL teachers faced was that of sometimes competing requirements that NCLB demanded they fulfill for their studentsdepending on state and local implementation choices these two parts of the law created a dilemma for some ELL teachers that complicated their critical tasks. (Manna, 2011, p. 129). Manna goes on to explain that there is a direct conflict of interest between title I and Title III: :Title I puts pressure on the schools to keep students classified as ELL to improve that subgroups performance, Title III generates incentives to reclassify [them as competent in English] as soon as possible (Manna, 2011, p.129) . This issue of whether or not to reclassify ELL learners has also been studied in other research as well where the author determined that Those English learners who negotiated entry into high track classes became versed in complex discourse skills, while those who remained in

HIGH STAKES TESTING AND ELL STUDENTS low-track classes learned to repeat and respond at a very superficial level (Callahan, 2005, p.310). Overall, this articles meta-analysis and synthesis of literature serves its purpose well: to review existing knowledge regarding the difficulties faced by ELL students with respect of Highstakes testing and what changes to policy could happen to reduce these challenges. Solrzano bases his conclusion on well-established research and provides a useful contribution ot the body of work.

HIGH STAKES TESTING AND ELL STUDENTS References Callahan, R. (2005). Tracking and High School English Learners: Limiting Opportunity to Learn. American Educational Research Journal. 42(2). Pp. 305-328 Keiffer, M.J., Lesaux, N., Rivera, M., & Francis D.J. (2009) Accomodations for English Language Learners Taking Large Scale Assessments: A Meta-Analysis on Effectiveness and Validity. Review of Educational Research. (79)3. P. 1168-1201. Manna, P. (2011). Collision Course: Federal Education Policy Meets State and Local Realities. S.Q. Press. Washington, D.C. Solrzano, R.W. (2008) High Stakes Testing: Issues, Impliations, and Remedies for English Language Learners. Review of Educational Research. 78(2). P. 260-329