Mary Ann Zehr reports over at her blog, Learning The Language, that the federal government is soliciting applications from groups of states to create new tests for English Language Learners.

I think it’s going to be a waste of money.

Here in California, I think the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) does a decent job of basic assessment. I don’t know what they do in other states, but if some want a new test, I don’t understand why they don’t just use the CELDT instead of re-inventing the wheel.

More important than placing a whole lot of stock in a test like that, though, is helping teachers develop the ability to assess ELL’s. At our school, to tell the truth, student’s CELDT scores don’t really play a huge part in their placement. What’s more important are regular writing assessments we do, clozes (fill-in-the-blank) to indicate comprehension, conversations with students (and their parents) about their goals and how hard they want to push themselves, etc. We try to challenge students as much as possible, while at the same time providing support, including bilingual aides and student peer tutors, to help them be successful in “mainstream” classes. And I think we’ve ranked relatively high in comparison to other schools with our rate of “re-designating” ELL’s (moving them out of that category).

I’ve written about my support for another federally-funded effort by states to create performance-based assessments to replace standardized tests. I view that effort as different from this ELL proposal, since I figure state standardized tests, whether we like them or not, are going to be with us, and I’d rather haves ones that are somewhat useful instead of useless and harmful.