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Hot List Q & A
CST testing for ELLs

May 2015

-----Original Question-----

An ESL teacher in my district was told today that if a translator administers the Woodcock-Johnson test in a language other than English, the results are invalid. Is this true? Please share how CST testing is done in your district.
Thanks.

Reply from: Karen Nemeth

Thanks for asking this important question. Educators must understand that NO assessment is ever valid if it is translated into a language that was not part of its original norming process. Any test is only valid in the language that was tested by the validation process. When you change the language, you change the test to a form that has not been validated.

BUT - it is so difficult to get the right kinds of assessments in the languages needed that we often have no choice but to translate an assessment we have on hand. While the results will not technically be valid - and the scores will not be as meaningful - the results can give a little bit of information to add to the portfolio of multiple measures that is being set up for that student. Since NO decisions should be made by the CST without multiple measures - one test score is not as important as you might think.

Here are some resources:
http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/50693/
http://products.brookespublishing.com/Search.aspx?k=paradis

Karen Nemeth NJTESOL/NJBE Coordinator, Parent/Community Action SIG

Reply from: Pamela Brillante

I received this information from an expert in the field who previously worked as the preschool special ed specialist for NJDOE:

"That is absolutely correct Karen - thank you.

Even for native English speakers, the results of any standardized CST assessment will only be one part of the eligibility decision. In New Jersey, the required functional observation, and the addition of a Routines Based Interview completed with the teacher and again with the family in their native language can give the most useful information

Here is more info on the Routines Based Interview. It was originally designed for very young children, but it works wonderfully with every child. http://www.siskin.org/www/docs/112.190

Pam Pamela Brillante, Ed. D Assistant Professor of Special Education, William Paterson University of New Jersey"

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