Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



THE NEBRASKA EDUCATOR, VOLUME 6 (October 2021), pp 109-127.

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.ne025


Copyright © 2021 University of Nebraska


While research in how English language learners (ELLs) use assessment accommodations is lacking, there are some general conclusions that one can draw. First, teachers must know their students’ abilities. This includes knowledge of their English proficiency, knowledge of their first language skills, especially as it pertains to literacy skills, and knowledge of their content area understanding. If teachers are aware of areas of weakness in students’ assessments, they should work to compensate for them by either changing their instruction or providing assessment accommodations. Second, it is important for teachers to recognize the various types of assessment accommodations that are available in their teaching situation. More vitally, teachers must be able to assign assessment accommodations appropriately to their students and know differences between ELL accommodations and Special Education accommodations. If accommodations are applied without regard to individual student differences, it can cause more harm to the assessment procedures and evaluations than benefits. Finally, there is a difference between high-stakes standardized tests and classroom assessments. While content-area teachers may have more freedom in modifying their classroom assessments, standardized tests are usually more constrained in their testing format and accommodations they are allowed to offer. Identifying gaps in research related to assessments for ELLs will benefit the field as content-area teachers continue to increase their work with students of diverse backgrounds.