High Stakes Testing: Issues, Implications, and Remedies for English Language Learners

This article discusses the issues and implications of high-stakes tests on English language learner (ELL) students. Specifically, ELL students are increasingly included in high-stakes assessments connected to accountability efforts (e.g., the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 [NCLB]), and thus it is crucial that issues related to academic achievement tests be critically evaluated relative to their use. The article analyzes these tests relative to their norm samples and the tests’ validity to determine their usefulness to ELL students. The article examines commonly used language proficiency relative to definitions of proficiency, technical quality, alignment with criteria for language classification and reclassification, and academic predictive validity. The article concludes that currently constructed high-stakes assessments are inappropriate for ELL students and that their continued use for high-stakes decisions have adverse consequences. The article provides recommendations to address the issues related to high-stakes assessments and ELL students.

Content Comments 

This article provides important points for consideration and discussion relative to high-stakes assessment reliability and validity for English language learner (ELL) students and for accountability systems in general.