Project Overview

Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all states are required to establish English language development (ELD) standards, assessments aligned to these standards, and a system of accountability to identify local entities where students’ English language acquisition falls short of expectations. As a result, every year, the fates of millions of English language learners are determined by their scores on their state’s annual English language proficiency assessment. Will they continue to be ELLs? What classes will they take? Who will teach them? What services will they receive? What services may they not receive?

States have generally adopted a theory of action – a set of if/then statements that articulate the means for reaching a goal – in connecting their academic content standards to their ELD standards and their ELP assessments. Usually, several claims lead to one goal in a theory of action and one must therefore demonstrate that all propositions within each claim are true before one can assume the claim is true and the goal can be met. Thus, the validity argument specifies the claims and propositions that underlie a theory of action, and the validity evaluation process involves the methodical testing of each of these propositions and claims. This process should result in a synthesis of the evidence gathered via a number of studies and allow one to draw a conclusion about the merits of the argument.

The goal in question for EVEA is whether the results of English language proficiency assessments are indeed indicative of proficiency in the ways we believe them to be. This process of specifying and then testing the claims that lead to this goal will constitute the heart of this project. EVEA partners will work with the five participating states to identify claims, build an argument, and also design studies and instruments to test those claims in the interest of validating the assessment. In the end, we will produce materials and guidelines from our efforts which can be used by other states to undergo the same process of validation.

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