Eagle County students test their English skills | VailDaily.com

Eagle County students test their English skills

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Figuring out if a student is fluent in English ” or if they’re trailing far behind ” is an important task for Eagle County schools.

All students who are learning English as a second language take the Colorado English Language Assessment in January. The test checks how well students read, write, speak and understand spoken English.

About 1,800 students in Eagle County, grades kindergarten through 12, are taking the test this year, said Jennifer Shank, director of English Language Acquisition for the district.

This is just the third year for the test, and it’s the first year teachers in the district were able to examine back to back years of test results to see if students’ English skills are improving.

By examining test results, schools can figure out how much students are struggling with English and how much extra help they’ll need from teachers and language specialists. Or, they might find that a student has become fluent in English an longer needs the extra help and one-on-one intervention to do well in school, Shank said.

Heidi Hanssen, principal at Edwards Elementary, said the test definitely has potential to be very helpful ” but because it’s new, teachers haven’t learned yet the best ways to analyze the test results.

“In the future, it’ll be a great resource to monitor student development in English, at least when we’re better trained at looking at the data,” Hanssen said.

It’s also a very time consuming test. It takes four teachers about two weeks to administer every part of the exam. Some parts of the tests, like seeing how well a student speaks English, require one-on-one help.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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