Use Data TRENDS to Interpret ELL Students’ TELPAS Scores
If you want to know how to improve your students’ proficiency in English, how to interpret TELPAS scores, how to determine linguistic accommodations and how to improve your teaching skills to target ELL students needs, then use your data. To be more specific, use your ELL students’ TELPAS scores!
TELPAS scores mean data, and in order to get information that is accessible and easy to understand, you need to transform this data into graphics. Visual graphics show trends that can help you identify needs and design solutions. Notice that in this article, TRENDS stands for Transform, Represent, Evaluate Needs, and Design Solutions. Since data management may be overwhelming, here is an easy guide to help you get started with your TELPAS scores analysis:
Transform ELL Students’ TELPAS Scores
TELPAS is the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System, a test that measures the English proficiency of students identified as English Language Learners (ELLs). TELPAS rates four language domains: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Each domain is rated according to the Proficiency Level Descriptors (PLDs), using the scores: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced or Advanced High. These scores describe the progress students have while acquiring the English language. To represent results from the four domains in graphics you need to transform TELPAS ratings into numbers: Beginner = 1, Intermediate = 2, Advanced = 3, and Advanced High = 4.
The following Excel chart shows an example of this transformation:
- If you would like to create your own spreadsheet, you can either manually type the corresponding number for each student’s rating or use the following formula:
- In this example, the formula is located on cell F2.
- At the bottom of the spreadsheet, you can group the students with the same rating. For example, cell B14 indicates that 6 students are Advanced in Listening. You could manually classify and type the results or use the formula COUNTIF, which is also included in the template.
- Once you have the ratings transformed into numbers, you can represent ELL students’ TELPAS scores graphically with a simple task that requires basic skills to build column and bar graphs in Excel. There are several websites and video tutorials on YouTube that can teach you how to use this tool. If you prefer using a template with formulas incorporated and ready for your students’ data you can download our free template here
- It is important to know that Excel is not the only choice available to represent data. Here is a list of alternatives to MS Excel and some are free of charge: Google Sheets, Tableau, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Numbers for Mac, Gnumeric, or Zoho Sheet among others.
We recommend two options to analyze ELL Students’ TELPAS Scores:
1. Column Graphs to Represent Student Performance:
Bar or column graphs are adequate to represent individual TELPAS profiles based on the students’ ratings. As an example, the representation of the TELPAS scores of the 4th student below compares the performance of the four domains of language acquisition rated with TELPAS:
An overview of this student’s graph shows that this student’s ability to understand English is good with minimal or no linguistic accommodations. His ability to speak is comparable to native English speakers. This student will benefit from targeted interventions to improve reading and writing skills in English. You may gain more insight by reviewing the student’s performance from STAAR Reading and STAAR writing in 3rd and 4th grades if they are available. You could also enhance reading instruction for this student by providing a reading material with highly familiar English language and visuals.
You could amplify the writing instruction for this student by providing graphic organizers to brainstorm ideas using simplified language; promoting shared writing activities, and by offering starters and sentence stems for the student to use during class work and assignments.
2. Pie Graphs to Represent Class Performance:
Pie graphs are ideal to represent whole class scores and percentage of participation. The representation of the sample class on TELPAS reading indicates that approximately 20% of the class reads proficiently and effectively in English. 60% of the class will benefit from linguistic accommodations and peer reading. 20% of the class needs linguistic accommodations, effective 1-1 instruction, and small group instruction to develop reading skills in English.
The same type of graphic may be used to evaluate the four domains. A broad analysis of this graphic reflects that during reading activities, the Advanced and Advanced High students, which account for 80% of the class, may engage in independent reading and project-based learning activities. This scenario would allow 1-1 instruction with the remaining 20% of the class that needs intervention. This is an introductory example of evaluation of needs and solution design.
Now that you have graphics, charts and a story from your data, it is time to think about the needs of the class, the needs of each individual student and the needs of the teacher. Students who are at the Beginner and Intermediate level of proficiency in either domain need linguistic accommodations to access content. One of the best tools to understand and evaluate the needs of English Learners according to their levels of proficiency is the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) This tool is available to all teachers in Texas at https://www.texasgateway.org/resource/elps-instructional-tool.
The simplest way to identify teacher’s needs based on data is reviewing the graphics:
According to the graphics for this class, one may decide that the main opportunities for growth are in the areas of reading and writing. The teacher of this class will benefit from designing lesson plans and implementing classroom activities across content areas supported with structured reading and structured writing techniques. Teachers in ELL classrooms will find many different scenarios and the graphics above may not apply to them. However, the principle for analyzing and finding possible solutions is the same. To gain a more broad understanding of the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) and explore activities and teaching strategies to meet the needs of students at different levels of proficiency, teachers in Texas are encouraged to take advantage of The Texas Gateway, a platform of online resources free to all teachers in Texas. This platform has available self-paced courses in various areas including the ELPS Linguistic Instructional Alignment Guide, Sheltered Instruction and also has valuable downloadable resources for all teachers serving ELL students, even if they are not certified in Bilingual or ESL.
Remember, teaching is a one year project. Identifying strengths and opportunities in a timely manner increases the productive learning time. A good analysis of data may provide the teacher with good information that otherwise he/she will have to figure out on its own losing valuable time for early intervention. Connecting your findings with great instruction and engaging activities is an endeavor that will change your life as a teacher and will impact your ELL students forever.
If you are in the area of Dallas or McAllen, you could benefit from a full-day PD workshop called Three Steps to Mastering Academic Vocabulary with ELLs. In this workshop, you will learn how to help your students increase their academic vocabulary using culturally relevant, engaging, and technology-based activities even you will enjoy! The workshop will also cover more details on how to use data TRENDS in order to interpret ELL students’ TELPAS scores and to help you develop strategies that effectively address ELL students’ needs. For more information about the workshops, please click here.
We would love to see you there!