Friday, April 10, 2020

TAI2020 #3

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 writing
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. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

TAI 2020 #2

Collaborate with your school’s leadership team and colleagues to identify areas where your inquiry will make a powerful contribution to wider school and cluster goals.

I want to begin this blog post by stating the obvious about the English Language Learners (ELLs) or English for Speakers of Other languages (ESOL). Because English is their second language, they are faced with the challenge of not only learning a new language but learning in it and through it as well (Pauline Gibbons, 2006). They have to learn and understand English first and then use it as a medium to do their learning or for social use. So while their peers with English as their first language are on point and hurrying ahead doing their learning, these ELLs lag behind with a few years in their vocabulary knowledge and English language skills. They have gaps that must be filled or they will become detrimental to their learning and progress. This is a real challenge for this group of learners. 

When these ELLs get to do the New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), there are ‘add-on’ challenges. They are expected to be at certain curriculum levels in reading and writing in order to manage NCEA, they are required to attain a certain number of literacy and numeracy credits (depending on their year levels) for certification, and they are to attain a certain number of credits from all their subjects in order to pass level certificates. Their vocabulary requires them further to increase their knowledge of academic vocabulary, technical words, and subject-specific language. Again these are all English language-related so they further place challenges on these ELLs to wrestle with.        

As an ESOL teacher - ‘What do I do? Where do I begin? How can I do it?’ are very relevant questions that I grapple with continuously. Again and again I ask myself, how can I transition a migrant or refugee to my English-speaking classroom and steadily build their skills as English speakers and listeners. On top of that, how can I help the same in an educational and academic context to build their knowledge and skills to the point of adequacy for attainment of educational certificates. A challenge for both my students and their teacher.

Teaching as an inquiry has been a very useful approach for me in answering these questions and teaching my kind of learners. It is effective because it gets me to know my learners and their needs first, then appropriate my design and delivery to take them from where they are to where they should be, and then assess whether they achieve the outcomes or not. I also find this approach effective for my learners because it requires me to use evidence-based strategies which drives me to further learn and acquire knowledge and skills from the experts in the field and research. By doing this, I expand and enrich myself as a teacher for the kinds of learners that I have and hopefully enable them to progress.  

Last year I found this to be true when I chose to focus on improving the reading proficiency of my year 10 English language learners in my inquiry. The shifts they made in their reading comprehension ability not only showed the effectiveness of this teaching as an inquiry approach, but I have done better in using evidenced-based strategies to teach reading to English language learners. This year I plan to change and focus on another English language skill but still working with the same learners except that they move to a year level higher. This year I want to focus on improving the writing proficiency of my year 11 English language learners, who are doing L1 NCEA. I would like to explore two main aspects of writing proficiency - developing and structuring ideas and use of appropriate language features when writing for different purposes and audiences.   

I feel this inquiry would make a powerful contribution to our school wide and cluster goals. Here are some of the reasons why I think so.

1) Developing students’ writing proficiency is part of our Manaiakalani achievement challenges.  
2) This will contribute to the achievement of our 2020 school literacy goal - ‘That 90% of Year 11 students will achieve NCEA Literacy’ - which is 10 credits from English achievement standards and some standards from some other subjects.
3) The aspects of writing proficiency I want to focus on are actual achievement or performance criteria for some English writing achievement standards as well as EL unit standards offered in L1 NCEA. My L1 English language programme is a combination of some achievement and unit standards.
4) These writing skills can be also cross-curricular needs and requirements. Some standards in other learning areas may require students to write essays, reports, or research with those skills. When these learners do better in these writing skills, they are transferable for use in other learning areas.  
5) As mentioned above, these writing skills are gaps that English language learners have and they to be bridged. These were shown in their last year’s and this year’s English language learning progression assessments, asttle writing, and drafts of their current writing. 
6) At a personal level, I feel that I can expand my knowledge and skills by doing this in this inquiry.
In closing, I like the idea of ‘English language Toolkit’.

I like looking at this inquiry as adding on a tool to a toolkit for purpose. A language toolkit for students involves teaching and providing them with knowledge on how to use certain language tools in a variety of contexts and for different purposes and audiences. It encourages them to explore and practise how language works in those contexts. For myself as a teacher, I need to increase and improve my ‘English language Toolkit’ so I can be more effective in helping my students. With this inquiry, a tool will be added to my students’ English language toolkit, hopefully. 

After collaboration, the following comment is indicative of how this inquiry is perceived to be contributing to the wider school and cluster goals.
"As a COL teacher, I feel this inquiry will make a powerful contribution to our cluster goals in the following ways:
* As stated in reason 4, the focus on developing skills that are transferable across curriculum areas is important in ensuring that learning is consistent. I feel the findings from this inquiry would support other curriculum areas who struggle with our ESOL students.
* I am interested in learnings from how students responded to extending their 'English Language Toolkit' and the implications of this moving forward."

Friday, March 6, 2020

TAI 2020 #1

Use the 'Inquiry Stocktake' to reflect on and write about what you aim to learn about inquiry this year.

Using the 'Inquiry Stocktake' for reflection is a great form of self-assessment for me. It helps me identify aspects of teaching as inquiry that I learned and could use most effectively based on my inquiry from last year. It also enables me to identify aspects of the same which I would like to aim at in order to learn more about inquiry this year. In this blog I would focus on each aspect of the inquiry process, reflect on what I learned last year, and what I aim to learn and do better this year.

Identifying valued learning outcomes (VLOs) to focus on
Reflecting on my inquiry last year, I am pleased that I chose to focus on the curriculum objective of ‘making meaning’ for my year 10 English language learners. I chose as a  valued learning outcome to focus on improving the reading proficiency of these English language learners by improving my teaching approaches on the areas of providing extensive reading experiences for students, teaching reading techniques as part of an intensive reading programme, and providing incidental and deliberate learning of English vocabulary for my students. 

My year 10 English language learners made shifts in their reading proficiency. More importantly, I learned how to improve my teaching on those areas which I needed to change in order to improve the learning of my learners. Based on those experiences from last year, I feel that I should aim at another valued learning outcome (VLO) as focus of my inquiry this year. I am inclined to look at creating meaning as a curriculum objective focus, to focus on improving the writing ability of my year 11 English language learners as a valued learning outcome.    

I found the help and guide of WFRC support from the COL sessions contributed very effectively to the steps I took in implementing my inquiry. I intend to learn and do the same for my inquiry this year.

Profiling students’ learning in those VLOs
The profiling of students’ learning in the valued learning outcomes of my inquiry last year was very comprehensive and specific. I used both quantitative and qualitative data which included gathering information from standardized summative assessments commonly used by the school as well as formative information gathered from students’ interviews, questionnaires, observations, and surveys such as forms and ratings. I found that triangulating the data was very helpful in knowing my learners and their learning needs. Such helped a great deal in developing my hypotheses and designing my teaching and learning experiences for students. I feel, however, that I spent quite a bit more time on the analysis of data.
Based on my experience from last year, I aim to use similar kinds of data in profiling students’ learning in my inquiry this year in the learning outcome that I aim to focus on. By doing that I would learn more information and get to know my learners better in their learning outcome of writing. I would also aim to use that data to improve my teaching approach on how to improve students' wriing ability.

Generating hypotheses (especially teaching)
Last year generating hypotheses (especially teaching) was an aspect of my inquiry that made me realise I had to seek help and advice from other experts as well as research in the area of English language learning. I found this to be an aspect that I spent more time on as I wanted to be sure that the teaching approach I chose would be effective in meeting the learning outcomes for my students. I developed my own hypotheses based on my previous teaching experiences and the teaching approaches I found effective, but I needed to verify that from those experts and research. I started to talk to Dr Jannie van Hees and read similar research on teaching reading to English language learners. Information I gathered were very helpful in generating hypotheses and approaches for my teaching.

Again based on that reflection and my experience from last year, I aim to follow the same process of generating hypotheses for my inquiry this year. What I aim to learn more about though would be on the area of improving their writing as a learning outcome. I would try to work more on time that I spend on this aspect and be more definitive on the hypotheses I would generate.

Testing hypotheses (investigating own teaching)
Reflecting on the testing of my hypotheses and investigating of my own teaching was the aspect of the process where I focused on teaching. I focused more on just teaching and doing activities based on my hypotheses, but not much on assessesing the learning of students. If I did more of that, I would have been more able to verify and test my hypotheses and the effectiveness of teaching approaches I chose to use. I did collect some information through observations, analysis of students’ extensive reading, and student voice but not constant or fast enough to inform what needed to change or tweak in my teaching. 
In my inquiry this year, I aim to improve that aspect as part of my teaching and learning experiences. I would like to make consistent assessments, both summative and formative, and evaluate my teaching as I implement teaching and learning experiences. Such would help in testing my hypotheses and or changing my hypotheses as well as in changing and tweaking my approaches to achive the leaning outcome of my inquiry. I aim to make assessment (summative or formative) and evaluation as consistent and intrinsic part of my teaching and learning approaches.

Using research literature and other sources to identify more effective approaches
The aspect of using research literature and other sources to identify more effective approaches for my teaching and learning of my learners was a challenging yet enriching aspect of my inquiry last year. This aspect was more a part of the aspect when I focused on generating hypotheses. The real challenge was the more time taken to read and do research as well as having to know where to look for the correct and reliable kind of research to use. It was helpful though having the COL release time to do this task. What I found enriching in reading literature was that my understanding in the area of my inquiry was deepened and the research findings I had supported my hypotheses. Relevant literature verified my hypotheses and consequently built my confidence in the approach I used for my teaching of reading as a learning outcome. What I needed to do more was looking for effective tasks and activities to use in my teaching.

As for my inquiry this year, I aim to engage in this aspect in a similar way to what I did last year but to limit the time spent on it. I do agree with the idea that a central “bank” where COL teachers could all add to so there is a breadth of reading being done and dip in.

Implementing new approaches & Monitoring (and tweaking) new approaches
Implementing new approaches and monitoring (and tweaking) new approaches to use in my inquiry last year was an aspect of the process I did not do much of. The time I had in the classroom was only enough for the teaching of the original approaches of my hypotheses at a rate appropriate for the low and slow learning ability of my learners. I also did not want to waste valuable class time with ideas that may not be successful, and so I only had sufficient time in the class programme to implement and maintain the approaches of my hypotheses. 

In my inquiry this year I want to learn how to be able to incorporate and tweak new approaches to my teaching if they help to improve the learning of my students to achieve the valued outcome. I aim to improve how I would monitor the implementation and progress of my inquiry this year. I feel that this could be related more to time and planning of my teaching and learning activities.

Evaluate shifts in own teaching
Reflecting on my inquiry last year, I found this aspect working well. I made shifts on my own teaching and remained focused there. The teaching approaches I chose to use were based on my hypotheses supported by information I gathered from literature. They convinced me that they were effective to improve the learning outcome of my students if I made shifts in my teaching and focused on them. The shifts were on the use of extensive reading, intensive reading, and accelerating the students’ vocabulary acquisition. The combination of those approaches were themselves shifts that I made in my own teaching.

In my inquiry this year, I aim to take a similar approach and make shifts in my teaching based on the learning needs of my learners identified by data from the profiling aspect of the inquiry process. I aim to increase my knowledge on acquiring the most effective teaching approaches to use in order to achieve the valued learning outcome of my inquiry this year, the improvement of students' writing ability.
Evaluate shifts in student learning
I think students making shifts or not in their learning outcome was the most important aspect of teaching as inquiry. In my inquiry last year, I tried to identify whether there were any shifts in student learning by reassessing the students at the end of my inquiry using the  same quantitative summative assessments which I used at the beginning to identify their - ESOL ELLP, PAT reading, and Accelerated Reader reading test. These were standardized summative tests commonly used by the school to test the juniors' reading proficiency. I also collected qualitative data using again questionnaires, interviews, and observations to identify whether there were shifts in the students' attitude toward reading.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

SPublish Reporting - Profiling A

Reporting - Profiling A

A. Developing a profile of students’ strengths and needs

1. Summarise the problem of student learning you focused on in this inquiry.

Limited English proficiency (LEP) is a real problem of student learning among English language learners (ELLs) in my inquiry group. This limited proficiency may be equally the same across the four language skills - listening, reading (receptive skills), speaking and writing (productive skills), though may be to different degrees in achievements of individual learners. This is a very common problem among ELLs who may know and function more proficiently in their first language (L1), and are learning English as a second language (L2). In most cases these ELLs lack two main types of skills - Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS), which is social or conversational language, and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), the academic language needed to comprehend and analyse a textbook or understand a presentation by a teacher. Research shows that depending on their age, BICS may be acquired to a functional level within the first two years of exposure to the second language, while it can take between 5 - 10 years to learn CALP before ELLs are considered competent and catch up to native speakers in academic aspects of the second language (Haynes, 2007; Cummins, 2000; ERO, 2018).

The Simple View of Reading is regarded as one of the most popular models of reading comprehension used and validated by research. Reading comprehesnion is defined in this model as having two main components to reading - decoding and language comprehension. Dymock & Nicholson (2012) refers to 'decoding' as simply the ability to pronounce words fluently while reading printed text. Farrel, Davidson, Hunter & Osenga (2010) go further to say that the meaning of decoding expands to include fast and accurate reading of familiar and unfamiliar words in both lists and connected text, that is 'efficient word recognition'. Language comprehension, on the otherhand, is simply presented as the ability to understand spoken English in an English speaking environment as well as constructing the meanings conveyed by printed words. Farrel, Davidson, Hunter & Osenga (2010) refer to linguistic comprehension, listening comprehension, and comprehension as other names used in some studies to mean language comprehension. They all defined  language comprehension as as the ability to derive meaning from spoken words when they are part of sentences or other discourse. They restate what Catts, Adlof, & Weismer (2006) give as a minimum definition of language comprehension abilities, “receptive vocabulary, grammatical understanding, and discourse comprehension”.

These two components of reading comprehension, decoding and language comprehension were originally claimed to be quite separate. So both decoding and language comprehension skills are separable for both assessment and teaching, although both are required to achieve reading comprehension. However, Farrel, Davidson, Hunter & Osenga (2010) argue that recent research has modified the model so that there is now a link between language comprehension and decoding via the part of language comprehension that is vocabulary knowledge. Now the argument is, vocabulary knowledge can make it easier to become good at decoding. This has become the revised version of the Simple View of Reading Comprehension. 

With that explanation of what a reading comprehension is, I chose to focus on it as the specific problem in the learning of five year 10 ELLs in my inquiry group. Their extremely low level of reading comprehension skills may be indicative of what research shows, they are two years behind the BICS of their peers and 5 - 10 years behind the CALP of the same. This is a big challenge for ELLs in my inquiry group, and to try and accelerate them to bridge the gap between their reading proficiency and that of their peers is quite an enourmous challenging task. However, the model of 'Simple View of Reading Comprehension' may be useful to limit this inquiry to some clear constructs or domains of reading comprehension which may be relateable to the context and experiences of English language learners.

The New Zealand Curriculum expects year 9 students to be at curriculum level 4 in their reading proficiency, when they enter the secondary school. By year 10, they are expected to read at curriculum level 5. These expectations are to ensure that these learners can access and meet the demands of the curriculum in all learning areas. My baseline data below would show that ELLs in my inquiry group read at levels far below these expected levels. Their STAR reading ages and PAT scale scores approximate all ELLs in my inquiry group to be reading between curriculum levels 1-2.
Literacy Learning Progression (LLP) refers to reading (and writing) as interactive tools, “that students use to engage with all the learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum.” That means these learners need to do more than just to read (and write). They need to use their reading (and writing) skills to meet the demands of the NZ curriculum. These demands are integrated to all teaching and learning activities which develop their key competencies as well as all knowledge and skills in all learning areas. Without knowledge or confidence in their use of these interactive tools or lack thereof, these ELLs will be hindered from all effective learning, starting from language learning to all learning across all curriculum learning areas. Their learnings therefore in secondary school will be hampered, let alone their being 'ready' for any learning beyond secondary school. Again my baseline data below would show that ELLs in my inquiry group are struggling with their reading proficiency as an interactive tool to be used in their learning across all learning areas.

So with the various constructs or domains of reading comprehension - such as decoding, fluency, vocabulary knowledge, and comprehension strategies, I chose to focus vocabulary knowledge and comprehension strategies. 

2. Describe how and why you first selected this problem of student learning at the beginning of your inquiry.

The question of how I selected this problem to be the focus of my inquiry relates to how much I know my learners as well as the background information I know about English language acquisition and learning. These help inform me about the problem and in selecting it to be the focus of my inquiry. I already know that ELLs in my inquiry group are migrants to New Zealand in less than 2 years ago and they were in an ESOL class last year. Their reading proficiency would therefore be 5 years or more below those of their mainstream peers. Their limited reading proficiency suggests the urgency to do interventions in their learning to read. When there is improvement or progress in this area of their English language learning, there is bound to be better impacts on their learning in all learning areas.

As a former ESOL student myself who learned English as a second language at a foreign language context before university, my personal experience has potential in influencing my viewpoint on English language teaning. I learned English mostly by reading, and I basically learned how to read by reading. I literally read any book available for me to read. So despite the very limited exposure and use of English at my physical learning context, I had unlimited exposure to English in and out of class by reading books extensively and for pleasure. I was able to acquire decoding skills, English words, fluency, form, and comprehension. This experience gave me insights into how I selected the problem of low reading comprehension among ELLs to be focus of my inquiry.

The question of why I chose the problem of reading proficiency to be the focus of my inquiry is in line with what ERO (2018) alludes to as their reason for focusing on reading programmes, that is, reading is a critical skill that enables children to engage with all aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum, that reading proficiency provides a doorway into the world, and that children’s success in all learning is largely the consequence of effective literacy teaching. In the same document, ERO quotes other writers' viewpoints about the importance of literacy and children's reading proficiency, "Becoming literate is arguably the most important goal of schooling. The ability to read is basic to success in almost every aspect of the school curriculum, it is a prerequisite skill for nearly all jobs, and is the primary key to lifelong learning. Literacy determines, to a large extent, young children’s educational and life chances and is fundamental in achieving social justice." (Tunmer & Prochnow, 2009)

I strongly feel that because the complexity in all aspects of learning increases as these ELLs move up through the school system, the disparity will get bigger. If therefore no urgent intervention is now taken to increase the reading proficiency of these learners, it will be much harder for their language learning and learning in other content subjects when they begin L1 NCEA next year and onward. If they are more able to receive information through the receptive language skills of reading (and listening) in English language as a medium, then they will be better able in their processing and presenting language skills.

 3. Describe the tools/measures/approaches you used to get a more detailed and accurate profile of students’ learning in relation to that problem. Justify why you chose these approaches and tools.

English Language Learning Progression (ELLP)
Although the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) is not a measurement assessment tool itself, it helps provide a nationally consistent set of progressions for teachers to use. It identifies stages and typical patterns of progress in the language development of English language learners from years 1–13, analyses the complexity of oral and written texts, and monitors and reports on English language learners’ progress. The progressions are in multiple booklets, they are - introduction, for years 1-4, years 5-8, and years 9-13). Teachers need to know these about English language learners in order to maximise their learning of English. It will help them when choosing content, vocabulary, and tasks that are appropriate to each learner’s age, stage, and language-learning needs.

The question of how I selected this problem to be the focus of my inquiry relates to how much I know my learners as well as the background information I know about English language acquisition and learning. These help inform me about the problem and in selecting it to be the focus of my inquiry. I already know that ELLs in my inquiry group are migrants to New Zealand in less than 2 years ago and they were in an ESOL class last year. Their reading proficiency would therefore be 5 years or more below those of their mainstream peers. Their limited reading proficiency suggests the urgency to do interventions in their learning to read. When there is improvement or progress in this area of their English language learning, there is bound to be better impacts on their learning in all learning areas.

I had to use this tool because it is a national key guideline for assessment, planning, and teaching of English language learners (ELLs) in New Zealand. It is also a school requirement to use ELLP to assess ELLs twice a year for ESOL-funding application. More importantly, ELLP provides both summative and formative information on individual ELLs across the four English language skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing) which inform both the teaching and learning of English language. It provides stages (achievement levels) that each learner is at and descriptors of progress at each language skill. The analysis of oral and written texts at each stage provides useful information on text selection for teaching and learning. ELLP provides guidance on what and where to start teaching these new ELLs as they arrive in New Zealand.

Progressive Achievement Test (PAT)
PAT is an online standardized reading comprehension test which assesses student ability to make meaning from texts they read in years 4 - 10. It helps classroom teachers determine achievement levels of learners in reading comprehension and identifies gaps in their reading too. PAT provides standards in terms of national mean scores as well as year levels mean scores which individual learners can be measured against. The test also provides descriptions of the reading comprehension skills that are typically present at different locations on the scales, allowing for formative and summative reporting. The 'What next' strategies are provided through the analysis of items in the test and links to the assessment resource banks. These are very helpful information for designing appropriate reading programmes and text types to use.

I chose to use this tool because it is a school-wide reading comprehension test used by the college and Manaiakalani cluster schools to assess the reading ability of our students. Because PAT multiple tests reflect expected progress through the curriculum, this is relevant for my inquiry cohort because it gives an immediate picture of how my learners are achieving and progressing against the curriculum. Further, because all students’ results end up on one scale no matter which test they sit, it allows for an accurate indication on where my inquiry learners are at in relation to their peers at school and nationally. This tool is also very useful because it does not only measure the achievement levels and progress of our students, but it also provides the strengths and gaps in students’ reading which are useful formative information to guide the teaching of reading. The ‘What next’ strategies are particularly useful in offering useful teaching strategies and appropriate text types and levels for teaching reading.   

STAR Reading
Star Reading is an online customised reading test which presents a snapshot of achievement at a specific point in time. The test is designed for students in year 2 through 13, also for students in year 1 who have basic reading skills. Reports from Star Reading can determine the reading level of each student and measure growth. Among many information provided, these are important indicators:
- Scaled Scores (SS) -  ranges from 0 to 1400 and spans years 1–13 are useful for comparing student performance over time and across years and against a national norm;
- Reading Age (RA) - provides an estimate of the chronological age at which students typically obtain that score. Scaled scores and reading age are helpful in indicating student progress over time as a result of this independent reading;
- Domain Scores estimate a student’s mastery of each domain for the student’s year level. I find STAR domain scores very useful in indicating gaps in specific reading domains assessed by STAR which help in planning and teaching of the learners;
- Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) suggests the readability-level range from which a student should be selecting books for optimal growth in reading without frustration. When students read at the right levels of book, there's a better possibility for them to make shifts. Students can progress above or below these ZPDs as they progress through the programme.
- Average percent correct (APC) provides information on levels of comprehension, both when students take a quiz after reading each book, or the average of all quizzes on books read in a longer period of time. The ideal APC is 85-95%, which means, if a student scores within this % correct or up to 100% from a quizz after reading a book, then the next book to be borrowed must be 1 or 2 points higher than the previous ZPD. If the % correct is between 80-85%, then the next book should be the same, and if it is below 80% then a book with a lower ZPD or easier should be boorowed next. With these information from STAR, students are monitored to read books at the right levels for their ability to comprehend.
I had to use this tool because the school runs a school-wide guided independent reading or extensive reading programme called Accelerated Reader (AR) for all our year 9 and 10 students. STAR reading gives information which are needed for the implementation of AR. AR aims at getting students to engage in extensive reading using information from STAR to select and read books at the right levels for their ability.

In this inquiry, AR will be used as an intervention where ELLs will engage on extensive reading with these purposes:
- Increase learners' exposure to English language. With that exposure, they are presented with 'comprehensible input' which can help their learning of English language. Specifically, the learning of new vocabulary, meanings and knowledges, language structures, fluency
- With information from STAR to guide, learners will read books at the right levels of difficulty will help increase their comprehension skills.
- Learners will identify their comprehension ability by taking a quiz after reading each book and by identifying the average % correct of all books read at certain periods of time.
Vocabulary Tests
For ELLs to make progress in both oral and written language, each learner needs to learn new English words. Webster's Unbridged Dictionary defines vocabulary as 'the stock of words used by or known to a particular people or group of persons'. A word is a 'unit of language consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that function as a principal carrier of meaning'. This stock of words are needed for reading comprehension. It may be therefore right to assume that vocabulary is an important condition for language use and skill development, but language use is also important to develop vocabulary development. Vocabulary can be learned both incidentally through extensive reading and deliberately through intensive reading programme.

Nation (1990) divides vocabulary into 3 different groups - high frequency words, low frequency words, and specialised or academic words. High frequency words are very much needed for second language learners to comprehend spoken and written texts.

English language learner should ideally learn the most useful words first. But to decide which words most useful to teach, there is a need to consider how  common they are and their relationship to the learner’s prior knowledge. To do that ELLP aligns word frequency word lists with stages of language learning. It is identified that at - Foundation stage - First 500–1000 words and other vocabulary relevant to class topics; Stage 1 - First 1000 words and a developing knowledge of the 2000 word list and other vocabulary relevant to class topics; Stage 2 - First 2000 words and a developing knowledge of the 3000 word list and other vocabulary relevant to class topics, and progressively higher, and so to other stages...

I chose to administer tests of the first 535 words, first 1000 words, and the first 2000 words with my inquiry group. The intention was to identify the percentages of words each learner knows and whether they are aligned with the ELLP stages they are in. These information will help identify the word lists these learners should focus on and the design of an appropriate vocabulary and reading programme for them.

4. Summarise your key findings about the nature and extent of the student problem i.e. present your baseline student data and evidence.

English Language Learning Progression (Pre-Test)

Key Findings:
1) All the 5 ELLs in my inquiry group are at Stage 1 in their reading ability. This is equally the same with their 3 other language skills - listening, speaking, and writing. 

2) At this stage 1 level, learners are only able to read texts which are short and often present ideas in a simple sequence. The texts contain simple and compound sentences with a variety of sentence beginnings but usually no more than two clauses per sentence. With vocabulary, texts use varied high-frequency words and some words that are lower frequency and topic specific and that are strongly supported by the context. With regard to layout of the texts, texts have about three sentences per page and are well supported by illustrations.

This is in contrast to the expectation of the New Zealand Literacy Progression (LLP) where, by year 9 students are required to read and write a wide range of texts in order to meet a variety of specific learning purposes across the curriculum. Increasingly, the language and forms of these texts are subject-specific. By the end of year 10, students should confidently select texts according to their reading prupose and control their rate of reading depending on the nature of the text, their purpose for reading, and the time available.

PAT Reading Comprehension (Pre-Test)

Key Findings
1) The graph below shows the ELLs' reading proficiency in my inquiry group to be well below their year 10 peers at the college as well as the national norm. They are 20.6 scale scores below the national mean score and 10.3 scale scores below the year 10 mean score at the college.

2) The graph below shows my inquiry group to have the lowest mean score among all the seven year 10 classes. That further shows their reading proficiency to be well below when compared to their peers in year 10.

3) PAT Individual Reports aim to show specific strengths
and/or weaknesses in comprehension domains tested. Out of the 8 different text types in the test, ELLs in my inquiry group did most poorly on 2 poems, an explanation text, and narrative texts. All questions in those texts were answered incorrectly by all the five learners. There were three specific reading skills tested - retrieval skills, making local inferences and global inferences. Out of the 42 questions in the test, 37 were on local inferences, 3 on global inferences, and only 2 on retrieval skills. These ELLs scored very low mainly on local inference skills, but also on global inferences and retrieval skills.

STAR Reading Comprehension (Pre-Test)
Key Findings:
1) Table 1 below shows the scale scores and reading ages of ELLs in my inquiry group. Reading ages range from 6:11 - 8:04. These approximate them to be at curriculum levels 1 - 2. That is another reflection of very low reading proficiency among ELLs in my inquiry group.
Table 1: Inquiry Group Scale Scores & Reading Ages
Scale Scores
Reading Ages
(in years & months)

Table 2 below shows the average scale scores and reading ages of all the year 10 classes. It is used here for comparison purposes. That again shows that the lowest among all the year 10 classes at the college was my inquiry cohort - another reflection of very low reading proficiency. The highest range was TKm and second to the highest was the RCo cohort.

Table 2: Year 10 Pre-Intervention STAR Results 
Inquiry Group
Average Scale Scores 
Average Reading Ages

2) An analysis of the reading domains tested showns ELLs in the inquiry group to be doing poorly in the following:
- Understanding author's craft
- Word knowledge and skills
- Comprehension skills and constructing meanings
- Analyzing Literary Texts
- Analyzing Argument and Evaluating Text

Vocabulary Assessments

Key Findings:
1) The results among the ELLs in the inquiry group varied. The graph shows students 1 & 2 to be having very limited vocabulary. They scored very low in both the 535 and 1000 words tests. Students 3, 4 and 5 scored above 70% in the 535 words test, student 4 scored 100% in the 1000 words test, but they all scored less in the 2000 words test.