Arkansas Adopts New Online English Language Learner Assessments

Arkansas will expand its use of digital tools to conduct its English language proficiency assessments in spring 2016 following field trials last year.

Questar Assessment's computer-based tests will be used to evaluate English language learners who are K-12 students in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Technology-enhanced test items include drag-and-drop and voice recording technology, among others.

The English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) is a consortium of 11 states that together are developing an assessment system to equip English language learners, teachers and families with the tools to succeed in school. Arkansas is one of those 11 states.

Questar also worked with some of the states in the consortium in the 2014-15 school year and has experience in conducting similar summative assessments in other states. Company representatives said that experience, and additional research gathered, has allowed it to continually refine the assessment tools in order to make them more effective.

"We are excited to continue our partnership with Arkansas beyond last year's field tests and work together this spring to serve the state's English language learners," said Questar Assessment President and CEO Jamie Post Candee.

Other states besides Arkansas in the consortium are Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia. Other states in which Questar has used the technology in English language learner assessment are Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New York and Utah.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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