The 6 I's of EAL Assessment

Involve all practitioners

EAL assessment should tell you what you need to know to move pupils on with their learning. Involving all the practitioners who work with the child in gathering and sharing information provides a holistic view of the child’s academic, social and emotional development.

Initial assessment

A thorough initial assessment of pupil skills can pay dividends later on in time saved, as you then know what the pupil can do and can plan and teach according to their needs. Initial assessment in English will show what they know as far as alphabet skills, vocabulary, phonemic awareness and skills such as writing, sequencing etc. Assessing pupils in the first language can show a deeper picture of just what they are able to do when the language barrier is removed.

Schools currently use a range of documents for assessing newly arrived pupils with EAL. The following are a few of the documents that many teachers have found useful for initial assessment and monitoring pupil progress:

Integrate ongoing EAL assessment

Integrating EAL assessment into whole school systems ensures that duplication or parallel and conflicting systems don't cause confusion. It also shows that the expectation is that pupils with EAL will be integrated into curriculum learning as soon as possible. There is currently difference in opinion in schools as to whether assessment should focus on curriculum content, language development or a combination of both.

 Once pupils are beyond the early stages of learning English some schools find that the whole school systems for assessing pupil progress, if effective and rigorous, is sufficient, for example:

  • half termly writing samples analysed and levelled
  • regular reading running records to determine strategies used and rate of progress
  • mathematical assessment tasks as part of maths units. If children are underachieving or achieivng at a slower than expected rate then extra tasks may be useful in gathering information as to why this is the case. Knowing what you want to find out should guide what tasks you carry out.

Invest in interpreters

Assessing children in their first language can be useful in determining spoken and written fluency, reading and mathematical attainment levels. Bilingual teachers and teaching staff can be useful in this process.

Indicate the positives

Indicate what the child CAN do not just what they can't do. Even if the child has no knowledge of English there will be some areas where they mastered certain skills, possibly in their first language. Focusing on the skills a child has ensures that a 'deficit' mindset is not perpetuated.

Interconnecting pieces of information

Join the interconnecting pieces of information about the child gathered from different formative assessment and observational processes to form the whole picture.There is no one assessment that provides the entire picture, but rather a mosaic of sources of information that link together to give an overall view of where the child is at with their learning.