Log in

Week 4: Diagnostic and placement assessment

  • Public
Last updated by Breda Matthews

Hi everyone,

    Last week saw a very lively debate on initial assessment of ELLs. Thank you to Rakesh for starting the conversation and to all those who contributed. Read the posts here.


Key points to remember are that there is no one assessment tool that will tell you everything you need to know and, as a result, most teachers use a combination of observation and assessments to come to decisions about learner needs.


Most teachers assess the four skill of listening, speaking, reading and writing along with vocabulary. But even within that range careful selection of assessment tools has to be made. No doubt there are issues with almost any assessment but careful choice of assessment tool and consideration of learners will enable teachers to make valid overall judgements.


For example the Vocabulary SIze Test is unlikely to be suitable for new learners and Sue Ruffells’ Picture Vocabulary Test would be demeaning for advanced learners. Learners should not be left to struggle through an assessment they have no chance of completing. Paul Nation’s page on the Victoria University website has a wealth of information on vocabulary assessment and a range of vocabulary tests and resources including the Picture Vocabulary Size Test for Reading Recovery (Sue Ruffell).  It is a great place to recheck from time to time to stay abreast with the latest.


One assessment I would like to discuss further  is reading. Several post mentioned ELLP and ELIP in relation to assessing reading. The ELLP and ELIP texts were selected to illustrate some of the salient features of texts at each ELLP level. However they were not designed as an assessment tool. I’d recommend using a commercial assessment tool of reading age such as Probe. Such assessments have been rigorously designed and subjected to much prior testing and will give you a reliable reading age which can be used to measure against ELLP. For example a student in Year 11 with a reading age of 7-8 is well below cohort.


You may also be interested in reading my blog on assessment available on at http://bredamatthews.blogspot.com/ - scroll down to February 9th.


I am aware that there are a number of teachers waiting for acceptance to the VLN groups.  If this applies to you, please check that you have completed your profile with the name of your school and your school email. I am unable to process join requests if your profile does not verify that you are a teacher.


Many of you will have attended the workshop organised by Laura Curwood at Long Bay College. It would be great to read any insights from the day. I’m sure this would be great help for teachers who were unable to attend, especially those in more isolated communities.


Events for teachers

  • AKTESOL event - 23rd August at Unitec Guest speaker: Associate Professor Roger Barnard Title: From Reflective Practice to Action Research.

  • NZATE PD opportunity - focus on improving student performance in NCEA external exams  St. John's College in Hamilton on Friday 24 August. Click here for more details.

  • ALANZ 2018 national gathering will be held at Wintec, in Hamilton, on Saturday, December 1. The theme: English language teaching: Is business as usual enough?


Events for students


On other communities

Secondary LIteracy Online discussed How to stop readers ‘zoning’ out.

Have a great week


Breda Matthews

Facilitator: Secondary ESOL community 


To post to the list email: secondaryesol@lists.tki.org.nz


To unsubscribe from the list, please visit