Strategies for Boosting Test Scores 24.7%

According to the study done by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, using a word to word dictionary as testing accommodations for English Language Learners shows testing improvement of 0.247 mean. (24.7% improvement)*. The study showed that the use of a bilingual word to word dictionary can help boost test scores if students are taught how to use the dictionary effectively.  In the United States students in grades 3 to 12 are required to participate in the testing program. One concern of teachers who work with English Language Learners is providing accommodations for their students. 


All states provide accommodations for ELL's. Most states allow their ELL/ LEP students to use a bilingual word to word dictionary as an accommodation or variation during their state tests (CST, STAAR, Regents, FCAT, AIMS etc). The policy regarding the use of a bilingual word to word dictionary during testing differs from state to state. While some states have general guidelines for using a bilingual word to word dictionaries during testing, others have very specific requirements. 


  The following six strategies can help teachers show students how to use their dictionaries more effectively. 


  1. Know your dictionary
  2. Use your dictionary as a learning tool every day
  3. ESL/ELD and content area  eachers work together to develop lists of key academic words students must know
  4. Watch out for words with multiple meanings
  5. Allow extra time for completing the test if you are using dictionaries as a testing accommodation
  6. Model strategies for students frequently
Velazquez Six Word to Word Dictionary Tips

* (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: Summary of Literature on Empirical Studies of the Validity and Effectiveness of Test Accommodations for ELLs: 2005–2012

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