10) What do I need to consider when assessing Multilingual Learners?

Special considerations need to be made when assessing Multilingual Learner (ML) children, given that their language and content skills may be distributed across English and the home language.46 Experts generally recommend assessing MLs in both English and the home language to get an adequate picture of their skills.47 Continuous monitoring of ML children’s learning is crucial to make sure that they are benefitting from instruction. Assessments should occur at regular intervals and should be linguistically, culturally, and developmentally appropriate for the ML children that are being served.48

Identifying ML children is a critical step in the process that will help determine individual needs. However, policies and practices around identification, assessment, and services for preschool MLs and those in K–3 vary. Educators should become familiar with the most common assessments for the age group they teach and understand their purpose and the variety of skills they assess. For example, the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) used in preschool contains specific questions about English language development for ML children and considers home language development, as described here and in this video. In K–3, the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) is used for identifying and exiting students from EL services. 

Sample Lesson Plan & Resource Walk

Access additional resources developed to introduce teachers to the work of assessments. These activities, a sample lesson plan and a resource walk, are designed to support learning about this instructional topic area through structured exploration of resources on the website. Click the buttons below to access these resources.

Strategies in action

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Evidence-Based Strategies and Resources


10A) Co-create language and content learning goals for children with co-teachers and parents.


10B) Use assessment results to inform instruction based on student English language development progress. Use assessment to inform strategic grouping and small group instruction.


10C) Draw from a variety of formative assessment tools (e.g., observations of child’s oral language, portfolios of written work, comprehension-focused questions or tasks) to monitor progress.


10D) Use summative assessment tools (e.g., a standardized tool that measures a specific skill) to determine if children are adequately learning content and progressing in language development.


10E) Assess children in their home language. If you do not speak the home language, try to find interpreters to help conduct assessments.


10F) Learn about the process of second language acquisition in order to help assess and monitor ML children’s progress in language development.

Great Tips

Strategies are interrelated

Individual strategies across the different instructional topics are interconnected and should be implemented together, in a purposeful and connected manner throughout instruction, and not in isolation. Make sure to also consider your classroom or school’s language model when implementing the strategies and adapt accordingly.

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Tips and Strategies For Bilingual Learning - Multilingual Learning Toolkit

Alignment with Existing California Educator Guidance Documents & Resources

The Multilingual Learning strategies are closely aligned with existing guidance documents and resources for educators in California. Learn how Assessment strategies align with these existing resources, or to see how the standards align across all strategies, visit the alignment reference guide page.

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