Using a nationally representative sample of kindergarteners and first graders, this study asks if native-language test translations help English language learners (ELLs) demonstrate their mathematics skills. ELLs frequently encounter testing hurdles because they are not proficient in English, the predominant language of assessments. Low scores on these assessments can limit ELLs' academic opportunities through inappropriate track placements and decreased confidence. This study uses a rigorous quasi-experimental design (regression discontinuity design) and finds that Spanish-speaking ELLs perform significantly better on mathematics assessments when tested in Spanish (instead of English) in kindergarten and first grade (Cohen's ds > 0.85). Because these and other findings suggest that test translations may provide ELLs with opportunities to demonstrate their mathematics knowledge, policy makers should consider adding translations to the list of available accommodations.
- English language learner
- education policy
- regression discontinuity design
- research validity/reliability
- test translation
ASJC Scopus subject areas