ELLS in the Midwest: Effects of assessments on writing discourse in a rural classroom
This case study investigates the effects of assessments on writing discourse in a mixed classroom of English language learner (ELLs) and English only (EOs) students in rural classrooms in Indiana. The number of ELLs has increased significantly in many parts of rural Indiana over the past two decades. This same population is held accountable by high-stakes tests which are used to show student academic growth and maintain school rankings. Teachers of ELLs strive to find a balance between meeting the needs of their ELL students and high-stakes tests simultaneously. This article explores the effects of assessments on how teachers approach teaching their ELLs, what considerations are made, and how classroom approaches change in light of assessments. Excerpts from interviews with teachers highlight the struggles of classroom teachers, problematizing current trends in teaching ELLs and suggest possible action steps to be taken at the local level.
Ayres, J., Waldorf, B., & McKendree, M. (2012). Defining rural Indiana—The first step. (EC-766-W). Retrieved from http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/EC/EC-766-W.pdf.
Batalova, J., & McHugh, M. (2010). Number and growth of students in US schools in need of English instruction. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.
Berube, B. (2000). Managing ESL Programs in Rural and Small Urban Schools: Alexandria, VA: TESOL.
Boyle, A., Golden, L., LeFloch, K.C., O’Day, J., Harris, B., Wissel, S., & Wei, T. (2014). Building teacher capacity to support English language learners in schools receiving school improvement grants. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20154004/pdf/20154004.pdf
Brisk, M. E. (2015). Engaging students in academic literacies: Genre-based pedagogy for K-5 classrooms. New York, NY: Routledge.
Burke, A. M., Morita-Mullaney, T., & Singh, M. (2016). Indiana Emergent Bilingual Student Time to Reclassification: A Survival Analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 53(5), 1310-1342. doi:10.3102/0002831216667481
Calkins, L. M. (1996). The art of teaching writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Christie, F. (1991). Pedagogical and content registers in a writing lesson. Linguistics and Education, 3(3), 203-224. DOI: 10.1016/0898-5898(91)90008-7
Coady, M., Harper, C., & de Jong, E. (2011). From preservice to practice: Mainstream elementary teacher beliefs of preparation and efficacy with English language learners in the State of Florida. Bilingual Research Journal, 34(2), 223-239. DOI: 10.1080/15235882.2011.597823
de Jong, E., & Harper, C. (2005). Preparing mainstream teachers for English-language learners: Is being a good teacher good enough? Teacher Education Quarterly, 32(2), 101 -124. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23478724
Fillmore, L. W., Snow, C. E., & Educational Resources Information Center (2000). What teachers need to know about language. [Washington, DC]: U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Educational Resources Information Center.
Flynn, K., & Hill, J. (2005). English language learners: A growing population. Policy Brief: Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning, 1-12.
Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning: Teaching second language learners in the mainstream classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Gibbons, P. (2006). Bridging discourses in the ESL classroom: Students, teachers and researchers. London, UK: Continuum.
Gibbons, P. (2009). English learners, academic literacy, and thinking: Learning in the challenge zone. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Gottlieb, M. (2006). Assessing English language learners: Bridges from language proficiency to academic achievement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Gottlieb, M., Cranley, E. M., & Cammilleri, A. (2010). English language proficiency standards and resource guide: Prekindergarten through grade 12. Madison, WI: Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.
Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in practice. New York, NY: Routledge.
Harper, C., & de Jong, E. (2004). Misconceptions about teaching English-Language learners. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 40(2). DOI: 10.1598/JAAL.48.2.6
Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Huang, G. G. (1999). Sociodemographic changes: Promise and problems for rural education: Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 425 048.
Indiana Department of Education. (2014). English Learner and Title III Director's Meeting. Retrieved from https://learningconnection.doe.in.gov/Library/FilingCabinet/ViewFileDetail.aspx?lfid=74370&et=USER_GROUP&eid=317&clid&ret=~/UserGroup/GroupDetailFileBookmarks.aspx?gid%3D317%26ugfid%3D11345
IDOE: Compass. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2015. Retrieved from http://compass.doe.in.gov/dashboard/overview.aspx
ISTEP+ Grades 3-8, 10. (2017, August 31). Retrieved from www.doe.in.gov/assessment/istep-grades-3-8-10.
ISTEP+ English/Language Arts Assessment for Grades 3-8. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/assessment/istep-elagrades-3-8item-sampler2016-17final.pdf
Kindler, A. L. (2002). Survey of the states’ limited English proficient students and available educational programs and services: 2000–2001 summary report. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, 8.
Larsen, D. (2014). L2 Writing in elementary school: Challenges for teachers and learners. Paper presented at 48th Annual TESOL Convention in Portland, OR.
Lee, J. S., & Oxelson, E. (2006). "It's Not My Job": K-12 teacher attitudes toward students' heritage language maintenance. Bilingual Research Journal, 30(2), 453-477. DOI: 10.1080/15235882.2006.10162885
Lucas, T., Villegas, A. M., & Freedson-Gonzalez, M. (2008). Linguistically responsive teacher education: Preparing classroom teachers to teach English language learners. Journal of Teacher Education, 59, 361-373. DOI: 10.1177/0022487108322110
Magrath, C., Ackerman, A., Branch, T., Clinton Bristow, J., Shade, L., & Elliott, J. (2003). The neglected “R”: The need for a writing revolution. The National Commission on Writing. New York, NY: College Entrance Examination Board.
Menken, K. (2006). Teaching to the test: How No Child Left Behind impacts language policy, curriculum, and instruction for English language learners. Bilingual Research Journal, 30, 521-546. DOI: 10.1080/15235882.2006.10162888
Menken, K., & Antunez, B. (2001). An Overview of the preparation and certification of teachers working with limited English proficient (LEP) students. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.
Merriam, S. B. (1997). Qualitative research and case study applications in education: Revised and expanded from case study research in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. London, UK: Sage.
Morita-Mullaney, T., Gilmetdinova, A., & Klassen, M., (2014). The (in)flexibility of the NCLB waivers for ELs in rural schools: Indiana administrators in focus. Presentation at INTESOL, November 15, 2014 in Indianapolis, IN.
National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, (2007). The growing numbers of limited English proficient students.
Ravitch, D. (2011). The death and life of the American school system: How testing and choice are undermining education. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Schleppegrell, M. J. (2004). The language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Schleppegrell, M. J., & de Oliveira, L. C. (2006). An integrated language and content approach for history teachers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5(4), 254-268. DOI: 10.1016/j.jeap.2006.08.003
Spandel, V. (2005). Creating writers: through 6-trait writing assessment and instruction. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Tanenbaum, C., Boyle, A., Soga, K., Le Floch, K. C., Golden, L., Petroccia, M., . . . O'Day, J. (2012). National Evaluation of Title III Implementation: Report on State and Local Implementation. Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, US Department of Education.
Thomas, S., & Vanderhaar, J. (2008). Negotiating resistance to multiculturalism in a teacher education curriculum: A case study. Teacher Educator, 43(3), 173-197. DOI: 10.1080/08878730802055057
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). American FactFinder - Results: Cass County, IN. Retrieved January 25, 2015, from http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF .
Valdés, G. (2001). Learning and not learning English: Latino students in American schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Valdés, G., & Castellón, M. (2011). English language learners in American schools. In T. Lucas (Ed.), Teacher preparation for linguistically diverse classrooms: A resource for teacher educators (pp. 18 - 34). New York, NY: Routledge.
Valli, L., & Buese, D. (2007). The changing roles of teachers in an era of high-stakes accountability. American Educational Research Journal, 44, 519–558. DOI: 10.3102/0002831207306859
Waldorf, B., Ayres, J., & McKendree, M. (2013). Population trends in rural Indiana. (ED-767-W). Retrieved from https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/EC/EC-767-W.pdf.
Wright, W. E. (2015). Beware of the VAM: Valued-Added measures for teacher accountability. Retrieved October 10, 2015, from http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/beware-vam-valued-added-measures-teacher-accountability
Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Yoesel, M. R. W. (2010). Mainstreamed English language instruction in a low-incidence rural school district: a case study. University of Missouri--Columbia.
Zacher Pandya, J. (2011). Overtested: How high-stakes accountability fails English language learners. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Zeichner, K. M. (2009). Teacher education and the struggle for social justice. New York, NY: Routledge.
Zhang, S. S. V. (2013). Learning to teach English-language learners in mainstreamed secondary classrooms. Teacher Education and Practice, 26(1), 99-116.