Learning a language

NSW trial of English as an Additional Language/Dialect (EAL/D) learning progressions – NSW Department of Education

Summary

Aims and research questions

In 2012, in NSW government schools, approximately 230,000 students were from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE). These students made up around 30% of total enrolments. Over 136,000 students (18%) were learning English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D).

The relationship between language background and educational disadvantage has been analysed for more than 30 years. Given limited resources, policy makers seek to target res…….

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Aims and research questions

In 2012, in NSW government schools, approximately 230,000 students were from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE). These students made up around 30% of total enrolments. Over 136,000 students (18%) were learning English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D).

The relationship between language background and educational disadvantage has been analysed for more than 30 years. Given limited resources, policy makers seek to target resources effectively to overcome specific aspects of disadvantage, such as language proficiency, to improve both the quality and equality of education outcomes.

Since 30% of students in NSW government schools are LBOTE but only 18% require additional English language support, it is evident that LBOTE does not by itself indicate educational disadvantage or support needs. Various measures have been developed over the last 10 years for diagnostic purposes to identify suitable students for specialist programs. Other measures focus on resource allocation and contribute to school funding formulas that take account of the varying needs of schools.

In 2011 ACARA developed the English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) Learning Progression to support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum. NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) carried out a trial of the EAL/D Learning Progression in government schools in May and June 2012. The aim was to investigate whether the EAL/D Learning Progression (the instrument) was sufficiently valid and reliable for teachers to use to assess English language proficiency of EAL/D students, primarily as a broad resource allocation mechanism.

The trial considered three research questions:

  1. Can teachers with a diversity of experiences and expertise in ESL education, assess each of the four language modes consistently using the EAL/D Learning Progression, across a broad range of EAL/D students?
  2. Is there sufficient evidence to support the intended interpretations and uses of teachers’ EAL/D Learning Progression phase assessments?
  3. What are the successful elements and useful resources identified by teachers from the trial process?

Methodology

The trial included 97 teachers, both specialist ESL teachers and classroom teachers with diverse ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching and assessment backgrounds. The teachers came from 56 schools, including primary, secondary, and central schools as well as

Intensive English centres. Most of these schools were from metropolitan regions, with a few from provincial areas.

A stratified sample of 944 students, across key target grades (Kindergarten, Years 3, 5, 7 and 9), gender groups, sub-demographic groups (i.e., Aboriginal, international student, refugee), and representing the range of English proficiency levels based on the current NSW ESL phase assessment tool, was selected by participating teachers for inclusion in the trial.

A detailed program of professional learning prepared teachers to take part in the trial. Workshops and supporting documentation showed teachers how to identify suitable students, and collect work samples, observations and assessments for the trial.

Each student was assessed on four language modes – listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each language mode had four phases of proficiency – …….

Source: https://education.nsw.gov.au/about-us/educational-data/cese/publications/research-reports/nsw-trial-of-eald-learning-progressions-2012