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.
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.