[lg policy] PARCC Releases Draft Policy on ELL Accommodations

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 19 15:13:52 UTC 2013

 PARCC Releases Draft Policy on ELL Accommodations
 By Lesli A. Maxwell<http://www.edweek.org/ew/contributors/lesli.maxwell.html>on
18, 2013 12:30 PM

The first of two groups of states working to design assessments aligned to
the Common Core State Standards today released its
the types of supports that can be used to help English-learners
demonstrate their content knowledge and skills.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or
PARCC—composed of 22 states—has issued its draft accommodations manual for
English-language learners and students with disabilities.

In the draft policy—which PARCC will circulate for public comment through
May 13—the consortia states that an accommodation considered for
English-learners must meet three conditions:

•It must reduce the "linguistic load" or complexity of the language that is
necessary for students to access the content in curriculum or on the
•It can't alter what is being measured in a test item or alter the test
•It has to help "address the unique linguistic and socio-cultural needs of
an EL by reducing the effects of English-language skills on the student's
overall performance on the assessment."

The policy further states that students who are currently classified as
being English-learners under the criteria used by their states will be
eligible to receive accommodations approved for ELLs on PARCC tests.
Students whose parents have refused language support services for them
would be eligible for accommodations, so long as they are classified by
their district as being an ELL.

The manual urges that any decisions about accommodations for
English-learners be made by more than one individual, and may include ESL
and bilingual teachers, content-area teachers, guidance counselors,
principals, parents, and students themselves, among others. These same
decision-makers should also decide on, and assign accommodations to
English-learners early in the academic year or upon enrollment and that no
student should encounter an accommodation for the first time on test day.

(To catch up on the specifics for students with
read what Christina Samuels has reported over at On Special Education.)

A student's English-language proficiency level must be a prime
consideration when selecting accommodations, the PARCC policy states.

And now, to the accommodations themselves—found in Section 6 of the draft
manual and rated for how effective they will be depending on where students
fall on the spectrum of progress toward proficiency.

1. Word-to-word translations from English into an ELL's native language
would be allowed on both the English/language arts and mathematics tests.

2. Clarification of test directions (not test items) delivered in a
student's native language by test administrators in both ELA and math.
(Test administrators would need to be fluent/literate in both languages.)

3. Test items and response options read aloud in English for the
ELA/literacy assessments only.

4. Student can provide oral responses on math assessments, which would be
dictated into text.

5. Extended time on both ELA and math assessments.

6. Frequent breaks during both the ELA and math assessments.

In the manual, PARCC lays out its adherence to the principles of "Universal
Design" so that all test items can be made accessible to the widest
possible spectrum of students without having to provide a unique

Among the supports that the PARCC policy says all students will receive on
the computer-based exams are a highlighting tool, a spell checker, and
pop-up glossaries with definitions of pre-selected words that don't provide
an advantage to answering the test item.

Gabriela Uro, the manager of ELL policy and research for the Council of the
Great City Schools which represents 67 of the nation's urban school
systems, said that most of the recommended accommodations seem to have been
developed with "a paper and pencil test in mind," even though nearly all
students will take the exams on computers. One example, she said, would be
providing an accommodation on the ELA/Literacy test in which ELLs could
speak their answers and have them transcribed to text, as is recommended
for math.

"For kids who don't speak English well, or who have accents, this would
have to be worked out," she said. "But it can be done. The technology is

Uro said some of the draft language related to federal law and case law
that is central to ELLs having equal access to education is vague and could
cause confusion for states and districts. She also pointed to language in
the draft that suggests that accommodations for ELLs be "individualized,"
akin to how decisions are made for students with disabilities.

"How do you operationalize something like in a district like Santa Ana
(Calif.) where 60 percent of the students are ELLs?" Uro said.

PARCC drew on a range of experts
what it said was a two-year long development of the draft accommodations

The big outstanding question for English-learners that PARCC must still
answer is whether the assessments will be translated into languages other
than English. Among the PARCC states, there are some that allow
translations and others that prohibit it. The group says it will have a
policy on translations ready some time this summer.

The other group of states working on new assessments to measure how well
students are mastering the common core—the Smarter Balanced Assessment
Consortium;will release its draft policy on accommodations in late summer
or early fall.

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