English Language Learners Struggle on NAEP Writing Exam

English language learners in the eighth and 12th grades scored significantly lower than English-proficient speakers on the latest results from the  2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress–known as the “Nation’s Report Card.”

Even proficient speakers struggled on the exam. Only about a quarter of all students taking the exam scored at or above the proficient level. The exams were scored out of a total possible score of 300.

– In the eighth grade, ELLs scored a 108, versus 152 for students who were not ELLs . Hispanic eighth-graders scored an average of 136 on the exam, while white students scored a 158. The average score for all students combined was a 150.

– In the twelfth grade, ELLs scored an average of 96, compared with a score of 152 for non-ELLs. Hispanic twelfth-graders scored an average of 134, compared with an average of 159 for white students. The average score of all students combined was a 150.

– In the eighth grade, about 1 percent of ELLs performed at or above the proficient level, compared with 14 percent of Hispanic students and 34 percent of white students.

– In the twelfth grade, 1 percent of ELLs performed at or above the proficient level, compared with 11 percent of Hispanic students and 35 percent of white students.

For the first time, students were able to take the exam on laptops that provided basic word processing functions. ELLs were less likely to use the thesaurus function than the English proficient students. Moreover, students who used the thesaurus tool scored higher on the writing tests than those who did not.

Related Links:

– NAEP: 2011 Writing Results.

– “The Nation’s Report Card Releases Results from an Innovative, Interactive Computer-Based Writing Assessment.” National Assessment Governing Board. 

– “ELLs Trail Significantly on National Writing Exam.” Learning the Language. Education Week. 

– “NAEP Shows Most Students Lack Writing Proficiency.” Education Week. 

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