Accommodations for English Language Learner Students: The Effect of Linguistic Modification of Math Test Item Sets

Edynn Sato, Stanley Rabinowitz, Carole Gallagher, Chun–Wei Huang; National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences; U.S. Department of Education

When students take a state achievement test in mathematics, test directions and test items typically are presented in English. Students with low English proficiency might not understand the test directions or the math problems. As a result, their test scores may be a measure of their limited English skills or other factors rather than an accurate measure of only their math knowledge and skills. Therefore, English language learners (ELs) may be constrained in showing what they know and can do because the test therefore measures factors other than students' content–related knowledge and skills. Research has shown that math test items can be linguistically modified to reduce language load without altering the construct being assessed. This study was designed to examine whether one type of accommodation, linguistic modification, when applied to math test items, improves the accessibility of assessed math content and increases the validity of items measuring math understanding, particularly for EL students with limited English proficiency and non–EL/non–English–proficient students.

Citation

Sato, E., Rabinowitz, S., Gallagher, C. Huang, C.W. (2010). Accommodations for English language learner students: the effect of linguistic modification of math test item sets. (NCEE 2009–4079). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.