Skip to main content

Study Guide

Field 116: English to Speakers of Other Languages

Sample Constructed-Response Item

Competency 0007
Analysis, Synthesis, and Application

Use the information in the exhibits to complete the task that follows.

You are a new ESOL teacher who will be working with the group of English Language Learners described in the exhibits. The setting is a fifth-grade Integrated English as a New Language (ENL) English Language Arts (ELA) class early in the school year.

Using your knowledge of English Language Learners, language and literacy development, and research- and evidence-based practices in ESOL instruction, analyze the information provided about the three English Language Learners in this group and write a response of approximately 400–600 words in which you:

Be sure to use evidence from all four exhibits in your response.

Exhibit 1: Educational Background

Educational background information for the three students as of the beginning of fifth grade

Angel is a 10-year-old Developing English Language Learner who arrived in the United States from Puerto Rico at the beginning of first grade. His home language is Spanish. English is his second language. Angel attended kindergarten in Puerto Rico. He received ENL instruction as a component of a bilingual education program from first grade until the spring of fourth grade. He has grade-level literacy skills in Spanish. He moved to his present school, which has no bilingual education classes, in the spring of fourth grade. He received ENL instruction as a component of his ENL program during the last two months of fourth grade.

Betiane is an 11-year-old Newcomer English Language Learner who arrived in the United States during second grade. Her home language is Haitian Creole. Betiane attended a French-speaking school in Haiti where she developed some beginning language and literacy skills in French before her family moved to the United States. English is her third language. Betiane has received ENL instruction as a component of her ENL program for two and a half years.

Li is a 10-year-old Developing English Language Learner who was born in the United States. Her home language is Mandarin Chinese. English is her second language. Li received ENL instruction as a component of a bilingual education program from kindergarten through half of fourth grade. In third grade, she achieved grade-level literacy skills on end-of-year assessments in traditional Chinese, which has a logographic writing system. She moved to her present school, which has no bilingual education classes, in the middle of fourth grade. She received ENL instruction as a component of her ENL program during the last four months of fourth grade.

Exhibit 2: NYSESLAT Data

Excerpts of data and information from the NYSESLAT (New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test), which was administered to the students in the spring of fourth grade

Entering A student at the Entering level has great dependence on supports and structures to advance his or her academic language skills. As measured by the NYSESLAT, a student at this level has yet to meet the linguistic demands necessary to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of academic contexts within this grade level.
Emerging A student at the Emerging level has some dependence on supports and structures to advance his or her academic language skills. As measured by the NYSESLAT, a student at this level has yet to meet the linguistic demands necessary to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of academic contexts within this grade level.
Transitioning A student at the Transitioning level shows some independence in advancing his or her academic language skills. As measured by the NYSESLAT, a student at this level has yet to meet the linguistic demands necessary to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of academic contexts within this grade level.
Expanding A student at the Expanding level shows great independence in advancing his or her academic language skills. As measured by the NYSESLAT, a student at this level is approaching the linguistic demands necessary to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of academic contexts within this grade level.
Commanding A student at the Commanding level is now designated as a Former ELL, and entitled to receive two years of continued ELL services. As measured by the NYSESLAT, a student at this level has met the linguistic demands necessary to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of academic contexts within this grade level.
Listening Students will listen to and understand general academic information and demonstrate comprehension of main idea and key details in English.
Speaking Students will speak using academic vocabulary and standard conventions in order to describe information, express ideas, and narrate stories and sequence of events in English.
Reading Students will read to decode and comprehend stories, poems, informational texts, and functional texts and answer questions about main idea, details, and sequence in English.
Writing Students will write from dictation and independently create narratives, descriptions, and informational pieces with relevant facts and details from pictures, graphic information, and text using standard conventions in English.
Proficiency Level by Modality Student
Angel Betiane Li
Listening Command­ing Expand­ing Transi­tion­ing
Speaking Expand­ing Transi­tion­ing Emerg­ing
Reading Expand­ing Transi­tion­ing Transi­tion­ing
Writing Transi­tion­ing Transi­tion­ing Transi­tion­ing
Overall Proficiency Level* Expand­ing Transi­tion­ing Transi­tion­ing
*The raw scores for all four modalities are combined then converted to a single scale score. A student's overall English language proficiency level is determined by his or her scale score.

Exhibit 3: Anecdotal Notes

Excerpts from anecdotal notes made by the students' fourth-grade general education teacher toward the end of the previous school year

Angel devours every new science book and magazine in the classroom library as soon as I put them out! I wish he were as enthusiastic about writing, although on most of his assignments his detailed drawings of everything from spaceships to animals to the structure of atoms are simply amazing. The art teacher just told me that Angel was one of only four elementary students in the district to win a scholarship to the Art Institute this summer. Speaking of summer, I'd like to see Angel read more broadly, so I've collected several science fiction stories that I hope may pique his interest and encourage him to read some literature over the summer break.

Betiane also won one of the scholarships to the Art Institute for this summer. I notice several other students are starting to carry around a sketchbook just like hers and asking her for drawing tips, which she always enjoys discussing. Fantasy characters are her specialty, which has led her to begin devouring the same book series that some other classmates enjoy. Betiane's intensive decoding intervention earlier in the school year has really paid off. She's jumped over two grade levels in reading comprehension since the fall. And lately she's also begun writing some original fantasy stories. What a breakthrough it's been to finally see her reading and writing independently for pleasure!

Li clearly has an outgoing personality, which has begun to blossom this spring. She was very quiet the first few months after her arrival midyear. Her mother reported that Li spoke almost exclusively in Chinese with her friends in her old school, which had a very large Chinese-speaking student population, so this new setting took some adjustment for her. At this point, she's made several new friends, and her English production is improving rapidly with practice. Her reading skills with respect to narrative texts have also improved. I wish I could get her to branch out in her independent reading, however. No matter what I suggest, she always seems to gravitate to books from the same few fantasy series, which are written for younger readers. Comprehension and writing of informational texts also remain areas in need of improvement.

Exhibit 4: Supplemental Assessment Data

Data from a standardized reading assessment administered to the students at the end of fourth grade

Vocabulary/Reading Comprehension Group Score Summary
Student: Angel Betiane Li
Vocabulary Composite
(Grade Equivalent)
3.7 2.7 2.8
Comprehension Composite
(Grade Equivalent)
3.5 2.5 2.6
Total Test
(Grade Equivalent)
3.6 2.6 2.7

The Vocabulary Composite is a combination of a student's scores in word reading and word meaning. It measures the student's ability to decode phonetically regular words, recognize common grade-level sight words, and understand word meaning without the benefit of context clues.

The Comprehension Composite is a combination of a student's scores in sentence comprehension and passage comprehension. It measures the ability to understand a sentence as a whole unit and multiple sentences in a reading passage.

Sample Strong Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment (595 words)

Evidence in the exhibits suggests that these students share a relative strength in reading. Angel achieved expanding level in reading (NYSESLAT Data) and a 3.6 grade-equivalent score in reading (Supplemental Assessment Data), while Li and Betiane both achieved transitioning level and grade-equivalent scores of 2.7 and 2.6, respectively. In addition, Betiane "jumped over two grade levels in reading comprehension since the fall," while Li's reading skills have improved "with respect to narrative texts" (Anecdotal Notes). Li and Angel both have grade-level, home-language literacy skills (Educational Background), which indicates a strong reading foundation. Finally, their fourth-grade classroom teacher describes all three students as avid readers in their areas of interest: Angel "devours" science nonfiction texts, while Betiane and Li enjoy fantasies.

One activity that helps students integrate information from several sources is constructing a Venn diagram. A Venn diagram uses intersecting circles to visually represent similarities and differences between two or more things (e.g., objects, people, ideas) that have a common theme. I would explicitly teach the students how to use a Venn diagram by first preteaching relevant academic language for comparing and contrasting information (e.g., similarly, by comparison, although, as opposed to). Then, I'd have the students read three biographical texts, each about a different person, and I'd use an overarching question to establish a common theme for the activity, such as, "What challenges did these individuals overcome to achieve greatness in their fields?" I would conduct a close reading of the first two texts with the students and then use guided discussion to support them in completing a two-circle Venn diagram comparing and contrasting information about the two individuals. Next, I'd have them read a third biography of their choice and make a brief oral presentation about it. After each presentation, I'd conduct another guided discussion, during which we'd add another circle to the Venn diagram.

The activity would be effective in building on the group's strength in reading because the genre of biography follows a narrative structure, which Li and Betiane read best, but is also nonfiction, which is Angel's strength. Also, the Anecdotal Notes suggest that each student needs to extend his/her independent reading experiences to other genres, and biography is the perfect bridge for interesting Li and Betiane in nonfiction texts and Angel in narrative texts. The activity would be effective in helping the students achieve the given grade-level standard because it provides them with a concrete scaffold for integrating information from multiple texts and provides many opportunities for them to "speak about the subject knowledgeably" during the close readings and discussions.

I would differentiate the activity for Angel because his reading and overall English proficiency levels are one level above Li's and Betiane's (NYSESLAT) and his reading comprehension is one grade level above theirs (Supplemental Assessment), so his "needs in reading differ significantly" from theirs.

I would differentiate the activity for Angel by asking him more sophisticated questions during the close readings and discussions. I'd also guide him to select a more challenging text for the third biography—ideally a text that's written at a higher level of text complexity and includes lots of textual features (photos, time lines, diagrams), and I'd help him make explicit connections between these textual features and the text.

This differentiation strategy would be effective in addressing Angel's reading needs because the higher-level questions would enhance his critical and in-depth thinking about texts, while the text's features would take advantage of his visual/artistic strengths. Also, he'd learn how to scaffold his comprehension of more complex texts by attending to a text's visual features.

Performance Characteristics for Constructed-Response Item

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the constructed-response assignment.

Completeness The degree to which the response addresses all parts of the assignment
Accuracy The degree to which the response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills accurately and effectively
Depth of Support The degree to which the response provides appropriate examples and details that demonstrate sound reasoning

Score Scale for Constructed-Response Item

A score will be assigned to the response to the constructed-response item according to the following score scale.

Score Point Score Point Description
4 The "4" response reflects a thorough command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response thoroughly addresses all parts of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with thorough accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is well supported by relevant examples and details and thoroughly demonstrates sound reasoning.
3 The "3" response reflects a general command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response generally addresses all parts of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with general accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is generally supported by some examples and/or details and generally demonstrates sound reasoning.
2 The "2" response reflects a partial command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response addresses all parts of the assignment, but most only partially; or some parts are not addressed at all.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with partial accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is partially supported by some examples and/or details or demonstrates flawed reasoning.
1 The "1" response reflects little or no command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response minimally addresses the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with minimum accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is minimally supported or demonstrates significantly flawed reasoning.
U The response is unscorable because it is unrelated to the assigned topic or off-task, unreadable, written in a language other than English or contains an insufficient amount of original work to score.
B No response.