English Language Learning and Assessment in
U.S. K–12 Education

Our research scientists and assessment specialists are working with educators, policymakers and other experts across the United States to find ways to advance education for English learners in grades K–12. Our research in this field mainly covers these three areas:

  • Assessing the language proficiency of English learners — Our research in this area includes a review of current practices in assessing English proficiency; identifying the essential language skills that English learners need in order to meet the Common Core State Standards; and developing an academic reading comprehension assessment for formative purposes.
  • Assessing English learners' content knowledge — In this area, our research focuses on examining content-area assessments (such as mathematics or science) to identify sources of test item difficulty for English learners. Examples of such sources may include cultural references or unnecessary linguistic complexity.
  • Teaching English learners — We are conducting research on two aspects of instruction related to English learners: the content and pedagogical knowledge required to teach English learners, and technology-enhanced professional development materials to support teachers of English learners.

Featured Publications

Below are some recent or significant publications that our research professionals have authored related to this topic:


  • Creating a Next-Generation System of K–12 English Learner (EL) Language Proficiency Assessments
    M.C. Hauck, M.K. Wolf, and R. Mislevy (2013)
    Publisher: ETS

    This paper is the first in a series of white papers presenting research-based ideas, principles and recommendations for those who will be conceptualizing and creating the next-generation of English language proficiency (ELP) assessment systems. It reviews the recent history of the current ELP assessment systems that were shaped under the No Child Left Behind Act and provides a high-level vision of what forthcoming ELP assessments should be and do to support K–12 EL students. Download the full report.





Our Work in English Language Learning


Learn more in this brief interview with Xiaoming Xi, Senior Research Scientist at ETS (Flash, 3:06).

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