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Using computer-adaptive assessments of literacy to monitor the progress of English learner students

by Anabel Espinosa, Barbara Foorman, Carla Wood and Yi-Chieh Wu

A top education priority in the United States is to address the needs of one of the fastest growing yet lowest performing student populations--English learner students (Capps et al., 2005). English learner students come from homes where a non-English language is spoken and need additional academic support to access the mainstream curriculum. These students account for about 10 percent of the preK-12 student population in the United States (Aud et al., 2013). Spanish-speaking students account for 80 percent of the English learner student population in the United States and, because they live disproportionately in poverty and attend schools with higher percentages of racial/ethnic minority students, students from low-income households, and students with low achievement, Spanish-speaking students are at greater risk of low achievement than other English learner students (Capps et al., 2005). This study examined how teachers and school staff administered computer-adaptive assessments of literacy to English learner students in grades 3-5 and how they used the assessments to monitor students' growth in literacy skills. It presents findings that may aid districts in implementing a computer-adaptive assessment of literacy skills for English learner students as well as for other students. Appendix A presents Additional Tables and Figures.

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