While accommodations can significantly improve the equality of SOL testing conditions, a number of issues surround their implementation. The VDOE guidebook states, "Testing accommodations provide LEP students the opportunity to be assessed on knowledge of content rather than on English language proficiency." However, it also states, “Students must take the test in English; translations of the test into different languages are not allowed.”
Audio versions of SOL tests may be beneficial for ELL students who struggle with reading. Still, because students are not exposed to this option in practice sessions during the school year, they are unable to use this function until actual testing. One anonymous teacher stated that because the students do not have practice using this tool, they disregard the option. The audio voice may not be of a tone they can comprehend and it seems more trouble than it is worth.
Plain English Tests are intended to help ELL students by reducing complex vocabulary. Some argue that this attempt leaves out language cues for ELL students by oversimplifying the language.
The main problems with providing accommodations revolve around the implementation or complete lack of accommodations. Many students will not use available accommodations because they do not want to appear as if they need special help. Other students may not be aware of the accommodation options.
All accommodations add extra work for ELL students to comprehend the questions, as more work is required to complete the same test as a native English speaker. For example, students may become tired or frustrated after using a bilingual dictionary many times for a single question.
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