The Alberta K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks are a language proficiency assessment developed in Alberta as an informal criterion based assessment. They were designed for use by teachers of English language learners and can be used to assess language proficiency in the classroom context. In most cases, teachers will only need the Benchmarks and multiple samples of student work to assess language proficiency in the classroom. Some teachers may wish to assess the Benchmarks in reading in conjunction with a reading assessment.

The Benchmarks:

  • provide descriptions of language proficiency for each grade-level division
  • support schools in delivering effective instruction and program planning for English language learners by:
    • identifying initial language proficiency levels of students
    • developing consistency in assessment of language proficiency for English language learners
    • promoting collaboration and communication about an English language learner’s progress among all of the student’s teachers
  • support teachers in:
    • assessing, monitoring, tracking and reporting language proficiency
    • communicating with students and parents to develop an understanding of language acquisition
    • planning for explicit language instruction within everyday classroom learning.

When Are the Benchmarks Used?

The Benchmarks are used:

  • when English language learners enter the school system in order to establish baseline proficiency and to identify the level and types of instructional supports these learners require to be successful
  • at each reporting period to assess students’ current English language proficiency
  • on an ongoing basis to monitor language proficiency growth and to inform instructional planning
  • at transitions between grades, schools and/or programs.

Who Uses the Benchmarks?

The Benchmarks were designed to be used by:

  • all teachers of English language learners
  • ESL specialists
  • ESL consultants
  • school administrators.

Getting Started Using the Benchmarks

Step 1
Use the “Characteristics of English Language Learners” document to identify which proficiency level best describes the student. This will be your starting point for assessment.

Step 2
Use the Benchmarks for the appropriate grade-level division. Review the Benchmarks indicators for the level identified as a starting point. Also consider the Benchmarks indicators for the level above and the level below to identify which level the student consistently demonstrates. These observations can be recorded on the related tracking sheets.

Step 3
Use this information to:

  • inform planning and classroom instruction
  • determine the level of supports required
  • communicate with students and parents
  • share the relevant Benchmarks Summary with other teachers working with this student.
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