Describe the tools/measures/approaches you plan to use to get a more detailed and accurate profile of students’ learning in relation to that challenge. Justify why you chose these approaches and tools.
To have a detailed and accurate profile of my students’ learning in relation to my challenge, their writing proficiency, I need to use tools/measures/approaches which can provide both quantitative and qualitative information about my students. I therefore need both formative and summative assessment instruments for that purpose.
English Language Learning Progression (ELLP)
ELLP provides a nationally consistent set of progressions for teachers to use to identify stages and patterns of progress in the language development of English language learners from years 1–13. These progressions describe typical patterns of progress for English language learners as they acquire English as an additional language. Teachers need to know these about English language learners in order to maximise their learning of English. They are helpful in choosing content, vocabulary, and tasks that are appropriate to each learner’s age, stage, and language-learning needs.
For a start I need to use this tool because it is a national key guideline for assessment, planning, and teaching of English language learners (ELLs) in New Zealand. We use this as a standardised assessment at school. ELLP will provide me with both summative and formative information on my learners across the four English language skills - listening, reading, speaking, writing. In this inquiry I would be interested only in my learners’ stages or achievement levels with their specific descriptors of progress in writing language skill. The analysis of oral and written texts at each stage of the progressions will be able to provide useful information on text selection for teaching and learning.
Asttle is a summative assessment developed to assess students’ achievement in reading, mathematics, and writing. The new asttle writing, which I am interested in for this inquiry, can test students in years 1-10 unless some can’t communicate at least one or two simple ideas in their writing. The asttle writing results identify the overall curriculum level of a student’s writing, as well as the curriculum level and score of each aspect of the writing proficiency assessed under the writing marking rubric. These are ideas, structure, organisation, vocabulary, sentence, punctuation, and spelling. These information can be used to inform learning programmes and to apply teaching practice which can maximise individual student learning. So they are not only helpful for planning purposes but for students to understand their progress.
I think this measure is appropriate and useful to use in my inquiry. The information on the six aspects of writing proficiency assessed by asttle can be classified under the two major categories of writing proficiency which I plan to explore in this inquiry - they are developing and structuring ideas and language features when writing for whatever purpose and audience. I also intend to use the asttle results of my learners from their year 10 last year. Those will show the writing gaps my learners have which are indicative of learning needs which must be dealt with in my students’ learning.
Students’ writing drafts
The first NCEA English achievement standard which I offered for my now year 11 students this year, my inquiry group, was AS90053 - and the purpose is for them to produce a formal writing or text on any topic. The two achievement criteria for marking the students’ writing are - develop and structure ideas in a formal writing and use language features appropriate to audience and purpose in formal writing. Students can achieve 3 credits for this standard and they can get an achieved, merit, or excellence. These three credits can be counted toward their level 1 NCEA literacy requirement.
Before students submit their final copies for marking, they submit their first essay drafts to me and upon my feedback they proofread, edit, and submit as final copies and I mark them for their final grades. It is those drafts that I am interested to analyse because they will give formative information on the students’ writing ability especially on how they develop and structure their ideas as well as the use language features in formal writing. They will help to describe the profile of my learners.
The final measure I will use to gather information to describe the profile of my learners is interview. Interview is a qualitative research technique which involves individual interviews with respondents to explore their perspectives on a particular idea or situation. Interviews can also aim to simply seek personal information from certain individuals for a particular purpose. There could be ‘structured’ interviews where pre-determined questions are prepared and interviewees answer in the same order. With ‘unstructured’ interviews, no questions are prepared prior to the interview and data collection is conducted in an informal manner. The ‘semi-structured’ interviews have components of both structured and unstructured interviews. This interview type has a set of same questions to be answered by all interviewees, at the same time, additional questions might be asked during interviews to clarify and/or further expand certain issues.
ELLs are not a homogeneous group - they come from different countries, cultures, home environment, educational backgrounds, and even different literacy practices in different situations. All these together with variety prior knowledge contribute and affect English language learning in different ways. This is why it is very important that I do this interview with all ELLs in my inquiry group because these diversities they brought with them might mean a range of diversified needs to address in the reading programme offered. The attitudes of the learners to writing and language learning and how they view and rate their own writing may also be sought during interviews. I will use a ‘semi-structured’ interview approach which will have pre-prepared questions and some other questions arising during interviews. This information will be very helpful in building the profile of my students.
In closing, these four tools and measures are what I have selected to use to gather both quantitative and qualitative information to help describe the profile of my learners. I have also attempted to justify why I have chosen to use them. I believe that knowing my learners well and what they need to learn and improve in their writing would be the most useful information to help in designing and delivering programmes to meet their own needs.