Assessing students who have limited English

Assessment of any student who has limited proficiency in spoken English is always problematic (see Cline and Shamsi, 2000). However, LASS 8–11 is less problematic than many conventional methods of assessment due to its strongly visual format and minimal reliance on spoken instructions. The practice items enable most students, even those with very little English, to understand the tasks, and where there is uncertainty a teacher or assistant who speaks the student’s first language can help with explaining instructions. Case studies of two students for whom English is an additional language (EAL) are given in Case studies. Like most students with limited English, these students responded well to the assessment and extremely valuable information was obtained.

It will often be found that EAL pupils gain low scores on some of the LASS 8–11 subtests (particularly those assessing literacy and phonological skills), which reflects their lack of experience with English. However, on the memory and non-verbal reasoning subtests in LASS 8–11, scores will normally reflect their true abilities because these are largely unaffected by language factors (provided the student can cope with the digits 1–9 in spoken and written form in order to attempt Mobile phone).

For further information on assessment of learning difficulties in literacy (including dyslexia) in EAL pupils and other multilingual children, see Cline (2000), Cline and Frederickson (1999), Cline and Shamsi (2000), Durkin (2000), Mortimore et al. (2012), Peer and Reid (2016) and Tsagari and Spanoudis (2013).