Formative Language Assessment Records for ELLs
Assessment Tools > Benchmark Tests

Benchmark Tests

flare diagram

The benchmark tests will be common across grades within grade-level clusters (i.e., grades 6-8 and 9-12) and within proficiency-level bands. Benchmarks tests will be developed in conjunction with the Center for Applied Linguistics and will be designed to assess academic language proficiency at targeted proficiency levels, administered under standard conditions. The Benchmark tests will have set scoring protocols and reporting mechanisms and proven technical qualities. The below figure presents the tiered structure of ACCESS for ELLs®-WIDA's summative assessment. All FLARE assessments will be designed to evaluate proficiency levels similarly.

Figure : WIDA Tier Stucture by Levels

WIDA Tier Structure by Levels

Within each grade-cluster, two forms of the benchmark test will be developed. That is, there will be two Tier A benchmark tests, three Tier B benchmark tests, and three Tier C benchmark tests. Two forms will enable teachers to administer the assessment across the school year (e.g., in September, February, and May) to monitor student progress. A total of six benchmark forms will be developed per grade cluster, totaling 12 forms across the middle and high school grade clusters. Tier A benchmark forms will have items targeted at levels 1 through 3, with a larger number of items developed for level 2. Tier B benchmark forms will have items developed to assess levels 2 through 4, with more items at level 3, and Tier C will target levels 3 through 5, with level 4 having a more of items. The goal in developing more items at levels 2, 3 and 4 for Tiers A, B and C, respectively, is to focus the decisions at those levels. This will support learning goals unique to students within specific tiers. The following table shows the item format test design for the benchmark tests. Tier A, B, and C forms of the benchmark at the middle and high school grade clusters will have the same design.

Table : Benchmark Test Item Formats

Cloze Test
MC* Reading Comprehension test
MC* Identify Error Test
Language of Language Arts
Language of Mthematics
Language of Science
Language of Social Studies
*MC = Multiple Choice

The benchmark tests will be scaled to support monitoring growth in reading and writing within each tier and grade cluster. Once benchmark tests and ancillary materials have been developed, small pilot tests will be conducted in each participating district. These pilots will support test revisions and item analyses. They will also provide resources for collecting student responses from which training materials, anchor sets and exemplars can be developed. Field test forms of the benchmark tests will be created from what was learned in the pilot administration. The goal in the benchmark test design is to develop high quality assessments that have been formally created and are teacher-scored. The Benchmark tests will have associated administration documents, technical manuals, and training materials.