Research Highlights

Language Assessment in BC Education

Principal Investigator: Saskia Stille
Co-Investigators: Valia Spiliotopoulos, Margaret Early (UBC)
Collaborators: Burnaby School District, Vancouver School District, West Vancouver School District, Richmond School District

Currently in British Columbia, there is considerable variation in how each school district delivers programs for English Language Learners (ELLs), leading to different levels of support being provided to students with similar language teaching and learning needs.  Recently, the BC Ministry of Education developed a new set of language assessment standards to address these needs. Educators and language assessors have the opportunity to use them to identify, describe, monitor and report on students’ English language proficiency development.  The ELL Standards aim to ensure that ELLs have the same opportunity for academic success as their same-age English-speaking peers.  The goal of this community-engaged study is therefore to help support the aims of the BC ELL Standards.   The findings, as well as the professional relationships developed with the K-12 community, can inform the university’s understanding of the broader changes in assessment practices resulting from the ministry's revised curriculum, and how these changes may impact university transition issues, especially for ELL students.

Grounded in research on authentic classrooms across the BC Lower Mainland, this project will work to ensure the validity and reliability of the ELL Standards, identify effective language assessment practices among ELL teachers, and promote the effective use and interpretation of language assessment using the ELL Standards.  Additionally, the project will identify ways to overcome barriers to the implementation of effective language assessment practices, with a key goal of the project being to highlight exemplary language assessment practices across BC K-12 education in order to develop a systematic framework for BC teachers.  Most importantly, this research is situated in a collaborative professional learning endeavor, supported by district leaders in four school districts in the BC Lower Mainland: Ann Thorup (ELL Program Consultant, Burnaby), Maria Yioldassis (District ELL Coordinator, West Vancouver), Ann Stewart Hunter (ELL Consultant, Vancouver), and Hieu Pham-Fraser (Curriculum Coordinator, ELL & Inclusive Cultural Education, Richmond).  They have invited the PI and two additional co-investigators, Dr. Margaret Early (UBC) and Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos (SFU), as well as Ph.D. student and R.A., Connie James, to support and conduct research relating to the implementation of the ELL Standards in these four school districts.