Testing Disrupted: Assessment of English Learners Complicated by Pandemic

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In fall 2021, the educational experience for children changed dramatically, with many returning to the classroom for the first time in more than a year and a half. The nation’s 5 million English Learners (ELs) endured disproportionate impacts during this pandemic-induced period of distance learning due to a range of reasons, including gaps in digital access and inadequate support in languages other than English. The COVID-19 pandemic also challenged statewide assessment systems, in a year when many students were not attending school in person and instruction was of variable quality.

Unsurprisingly, there were downward trends in student performance visible across all students in English language arts, math, and among ELs, English language development. But what have state policymakers and school leaders learned from the 2020–21 state assessment data? How are they coupling assessment data with other metrics to inform investments and interventions that are personalized for ELs?

In a webinar marking the release of a report ( https://bit.ly/517ELtest ) that examines ELs’ learning experiences during the 2020-21 academic year and their performance and participation in statewide testing, experts offer their analysis of states’ assessment data and how instructional challenges and the pandemic affected the interpretation of these data. Speakers also explore challenges states faced and lessons learned in administering assessments and how schools are using data to inform interventions and instruction this year. Finally, they share their perspective of how the pandemic might change the approach states and districts take to measuring academic growth and success.

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