Best Practice

Assessing English language proficiency: Why and how

Recent research shows the importance of effectively assessing the English language proficiency of EAL learners. Katherine Solomon looks at the findings and offers practical advice for secondary schools

In January 2016 the Department for Education (DfE) undertook a two-year trial of the introduction of a requirement for schools to report on the English language proficiency of their learners with English as an additional language (EAL) in the Schools Census.

English language proficiency scales are used by the devolved nations, and also in other English-speaking countries, as the evidence shows that it is this that is a key factor in predicting attainment.

Although the Proficiency in English Scale essentially provided no more than a screening tool with five generic bands (from A to E, with the five points being: New to English, Early acquisition, Developing competence, Competent and Fluent), their introduction required schools, many for the first time, to develop an approach to the assessment of their EAL learners.

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