This essay examines the format and alignment of academic standards with the ELL proficiency standards. The alignment with the language arts standards (reading and writing) is also examined. The essay addresses the historical and political incentives available for standard based instruction. The essay shows how the TESOL English learner’s standards can be used as a guide for differentiating instructions for various levels of ELLs. The use of data from various sources as a tool to drive the standard based instruction is also examined. It is also shown how the varieties of standards available to teachers provide a focus on high expectations and the motivation needed in the tailoring of instructions to satisfy the needs of the learners.    

The Challenge

Coming up with an effective curriculum has always proved to be a hard task. This has especially been the case when the English language learners. The challenge especially stems up from the difficulty involved in the reconciling the state reports to what actually happens in class. For instance, Fuhrman and Elmore (2004) ask, “Has a student who performs well on the test mastered what the state all the student to know?” (112). Fuhrman and Elmore (2004) ask a further question, “is a school with a higher proportion of students who perform well on the test truly a school that is enabling students to meet challenging standards?” (112). some of the state reports have been found to be quite misleading with the use of passing score complicating the validity. Questions of mismatches are raised: mismatches between standards, tests and assessments which impact on how resources are allocated (Fuhrman & Elmore, 2004). All these call for aligning of the academic Standards with ELL Proficiency Standards.

Planning Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

The federal government grants funds (under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001) to states and expects them to come up with frameworks which blend well with the large scale and classroom assessment. Efficient frameworks should be developed to help in the planning of the curriculum, instruction and assessment (Lisboa, 2004).  

Organization and Format of the Framework

The English language proficiency is considered as the key aspects of the large scale state and classroom assessment. It has been found that the frameworks generate models of performance indicators which are different for the domains of speaking, listening, reading and writing. The large scale state framework is informed and enhanced by the classroom framework.

The English language Proficiency standards

In the both the classroom and large scale state assessment framework, the five English language proficiency standards are similar. They give the reflection of acquiring social and academic dimensions of acquiring a second language in grade K-12. Each of the English language proficiency standards examines some aspect of language acquisition. These aspects can be social and instructional setting including mathematics, language arts, mathematics and social studies. These are as follows:

ELP standard 1: the English language learners make their communication in the English language for instructional and social purposes in the school setting (Lisboa, 2004).

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ELP standard 2: the learners communicate ideas, information and concepts which are necessary for the academic success particularly in the language arts (Lisboa, 2004).

ELP standard 3: the learners make communication by using ideas, information and concepts in the areas of mathematics (Lisboa, 2004).

ELP standard 4: The learners are to communicate ideas, information and concepts in the field of science (Lisboa, 2004).

ELP standard 5:  t he learners are to communicate the ideas, concepts and information which is vital in the learning of social studies (Lisboa, 2004).

The Language Domains

The above language standards encompass the four language domains. These language domains include speaking, listening, writing, and writing.  The domains give a reflection of the communication modality which is further delineated by model performance indicator and language proficiency levels.  

It has been noted that individual language learners vary in their receptive and productive capacity. The receptive language has been implicated with faster development as compared to the productive skills. Thus it is correct to claim that the learners will not display a uniform acquisition of skills across the four domains. Thus there is a vital need for these factors to be taken into consideration when making the instructional planning and assessment (Beatty, 2008).

The language proficiency levels and performance definitions

The progress of language development is outlined by the language proficiency levels. The levels show what the learners are to do at each domain of the standards. The levels of the language proficiency can be viewed as steps towards the success in academic standards. The first step is entering followed by beginning, developing, expanding and lastly bridging. Bridging enables the attainment of state academic content standards. The performance definitions provide an excellent overview of language acquisition.

Entering: This involves the pictorial and graphical representation of the content areas. It also involves the use of words phrases in one step command. WH questions are used with graphic and visual support (Lisboa, 2004).

Begging: This is the use of the general language which is related to the content areas by the use of short sentences. At this level the written or spoken sentences often contain common error which more often distorts the meaning of what is to be communicated (Lisboa, 2004).

Developing: At this point still, the learner uses the general and specific language used in the content areas. The learner is able to expand sentences in the oral interactions. As much as syntax errors may impede the meaning of the language used, still it is possible for the original meaning to be communicated (Lisboa, 2004).

Expanding: The learner acquires specific and technical languages used in the content areas. The learner is able to construct various linguistically complex sentences in a manner that communicates the message across in a correct way. The oral and written language contains minimal errors which do not impede the message being communicated across (Lisboa, 2004).

Bridging: At this point the learner is able to put into practice the technical language. The oral and written language is good and approaches comparability to that used by the English proficient peers (Lisboa, 2004).

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