72. How to modify tests

In answers to other questions I have described extensively how to modify tests to enable ALL students, especially students of limited English proficiency, to be able to show how much they have learned as the result of instruction. In fact, it is to the teacher’s advantage to modify traditional pencil-and-paper tests so that ALL students display mastery of what has been taught. The teacher’s efforts, (h)is/er competence in teaching, the effectiveness of (h)is/er instructional techniques and strategies will be fully recognized when students display ALL they have learned.

Pencil-and-paper tests only allow those students who can read and write to be able to show what they have learned. Blind students –unable to read and write on their own, or perform in unmodified pencil-and-paper tests, will not be able to display mastery of what they have learned. Students learning English will not be able to write coherently on their own, or may not be able to read English to answer the test questions or select the correct answer. Teacher can modify tests by:

  1. Including questions that present VISUAL stimuli, realia, manipulatives, etc.
  2. Incorporating listening and VISUALS in the questions and in the answers.
  3. Requiring ACTIVE responses to questions, such as selecting VISUALS, or organizing visuals or vocabulary words into meaningful categories, etc.
  4. Using "testing stations" that allow students to rotate from question to question at certain time intervals (one or two minutes, for example)
  5. Allowing students to respond by pairing themselves, or forming meaningful groups
  6. Including questions that present VISUAL, LISTENING and READING stimuli
  7. Asking students to choose visuals as they listen to oral stimuli
  8. Giving students answers, and asking them to formulate the questions being asked
  9. Having students respond as a group rather than accepting individual responses
  10. Evaluating student "performance" through visual / oral / written student presentations.

The greater the variety of test questions and test responses, the more a test will help ALL students display the knowledge and the understandings they have acquired as a direct result of instruction. Teachers can and SHOULD use these tests to compare the performance of the same students in standardized tests. Educational decisions regarding student placement, promotion, retention, etc., should take into account the performance of students in alternative tests that better assess what students have learned and can learn.


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net