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The assessment and grading of level 2 ESL students

Level 2 students are students in ESL2 classes (grades 6-8) or Advanced/Transitional classes (grades 9-12).

In general,  level 2 students should be assessed and graded according to the same criteria as the other students in the class. This may mean that for some students their grades are low at first, but nevertheless it is important that ESL students, together with their parents and their ESL teacher get accurate feedback on the standards they are reaching in their mainstream classes. Such a grading policy also helps the ESL teacher to determine at the end of the year if the student is in need of further support in the following year. (It can be difficult to recommend that a child needs to continue in ESL if his grades in the other subjects have been artificially inflated.)

Within the above guidelines, however, it is still possible to treat ESL2 students in a way that is appropriate to their particular status and needs. Sympathetic is a useful term to describe this special treatment of ESL students in terms of grading and assessment. It means for example that students are given credit for demonstrating understanding even if their ability to express their understanding in clear and accurate English is limited. It means that they are not graded down for grammar and spelling mistakes (unless these are an integral and clearly stated part of the assignment.) It means further that students have the chance to give an oral explanation of answers that they were not able to write down very clearly. It also means that they may given more time to do assignments or tests, or allowed the chance to redo them if they failed to understand what was required.

In order to support ESL2 students most effectively it is essential that the subject teacher and the ESL teacher work together closely. Depending on information received from the subject teacher, the ESL teacher may do a whole class support lesson (or a series of lessons) on a particular subject assignment, or may decide to work with an individual student who is having particular difficulties. In this way the possibility that the student might get a whole series of bad grades can be precluded - although ESL1 students are told, on promotion to ESL2, that they cannot expect to get good grades at first.


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