High Stakes Testing: Issues, Implications, and Remedies for English Language Learners

Jun. 20, 2008

Source: Review of Educational Research, Vol. 78, No. 2, 260-329, June 2008 


This article discusses the issues and implications of high stakes tests on English language learners (ELLs). As ELLs are being included in all high stakes assessments tied to accountability efforts (e.g., No Child Left Behind), it is crucial that issues related to the tests be critically evaluated relative to their use. In this case, academic achievement tests are analyzed relative to their norming samples and validity to determine their usefulness to ELLs. Also, commonly used language proficiency tests are examined relative to definitions of proficiency, technical quality, alignment with criteria for language classification and reclassification, and their academic predictive validity.
Based on the synthesis of the literature, the author concludes that high stakes tests as currently constructed are inappropriate for ELLs, and most disturbing is their continued use for high stakes decisions that have adverse consequences.
The author provides recommendations for addressing the issues related to high stakes tests and ELLs.

Updated: Oct. 27, 2008