“What Gets Lost When English-Only Writing Assessment Is Used to Assess Writing Proficiency in Spanish-English Emerging Bilingual Learners?”
Kathy Escamilla, Sandra Butvilofsky, & Susan Hopewell
Published 24 Jan 2017

Recent analyses of wide-scale writing assessment outcomes indicate that English writing achievement for fourth- and fifth-grade emerging bilingual learners continues to be an area of great concern. Utilizing the theory of holistic bilingualism and a mixed methods design, this study examines the writing skills of 44 emerging bilingual fourth and fifth graders. The purpose of this study was to compare and correlate various writing outcomes as measured by the state’s high-stakes writing assessment, English language proficiency writing assessment, and an informal biliterate writing rubric. Results indicate that the majority of students are not acquiring proficiency in English writing as measured by English-only assessments. When students’ Spanish and English outcomes are considered holistically, students’ outcomes in Spanish surpassed English for the majority. Findings indicate the potential for a writing assessment protocol that is intentionally biliterate and that displays Spanish and English together as a part of the assessment process.

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