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 15. An Introduction to K-12 Language Assessment


Course Description

This course introduces teachers to traditional and performance based language assessment for English language learners at the primary and secondary school level. 

We will look at the legal history and politics surrounding language assessment and also discuss different test structures and methods used to assess English language learners. Then, we will examine how standardized tests are used to measure language proficiency and academic achievement. With that framework in place, we will explore how to specifically assess listening, speaking, reading, and writing, both individually and in an integrated fashion.

We will also examine test taking issues and strategies and will look at how technology can be used in assessment. Special needs students will also be addressed. While this course is primarily focused on the United States, keep in mind that many of the lessons can be generalized or applied to situations in other countries.
Also, students who successfully complete this course will receive a TESOL Certificate of Completion.

Instructor: Natalie A. Kuhlman

Natalie A. Kuhlman, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Education at San Diego State University in San Diego, California. She is a past-president of CATESOL, and past Board member of international TESOL. She has worked in the area of English Language Development standards and assessment locally, nationally and internationally for thirty years. Dr. Kuhlman was the coordinator for the development of the California ELD Standards, an advisor to the California language development test and author of LOTS (Language Observation Tasks System), a performance based assessment system. 

She is now a member of the TESOL/NCATE ESL Teacher Standards Committee and represents TESOL on the NCATE Board (National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education). Recently she served as the Resident Director for the California State University in Querétaro, Mexico, directing a bilingual teacher preparation program.


Internet access, e-mail, the Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox Web browser, and the Adobe Flash and PDF plug-ins (two free and simple downloads you obtain at by clicking Get Adobe Flash Player and Get Adobe Reader).


A new section of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.

All courses run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have to be present when lessons are released. You will have access to all lessons until the course ends. However, the interactive discussion area that accompanies each lesson will automatically close two weeks after the lesson is released. As such, we strongly recommend that you complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.

The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks to complete all of your course work, including the final exam.     


Week 1

Wednesday – Lesson 01
An Introduction To Language Assessment

Friday – Lesson 02
Understanding Technical Concepts About Testing

Week 2

Wednesday – Lesson 03
Characteristics of Standardized Language Proficiency Tests

Friday – Lesson 04
Characteristics of Traditional Tests of Grammar and Vocabulary

Week 3 

Wednesday – Lesson 05
Types of Classroom and Performance-Based Assessment

Friday – Lesson 06
How to Create and Organize Portfolios

Week 4

Wednesday – Lesson 07
How to Create and Use Rubrics

Friday – Lesson 08
Assessing Listening and Speaking

Week 5

Wednesday – Lesson 09
Assessing Reading

Friday – Lesson 10
Assessing Writing

Week 6

Wednesday – Lesson 11
Assessing Content Areas

Friday – Lesson 12
Other Assessment Issues

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