A Comprehensive Assessment of Immigrant Students: Low-income Families’ Effects and School Outcomes in Second Language Development

By Sandra Andrade Figueiredo, Margarida Alves Martins, Carlos Fernandes da Silva and Cristina Simões.

Published by The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 31, 2015 $US5.00

The language assessment in second language context is still a gap in Portuguese schools and at research settings. Comprehensive diagnostic procedures are expected to be explanatory and to provide classification about proficiency levels. Proficiency, development and application are three components involved in educational assessment, specifically in second language context. Diagnostic and placement should be responsive to ensure the academic success mainly in the first years of schooling. The current international approaches focused on in-depth and broader assessments with strong theoretical basis. Specifically, our research project is developed maintaining the principles of several benchmarks provided by ALBERTA, TESOL, TOEFL and other testing guides. Despite of Portuguese Second Language context, our sources are mainly American instruments regarding the great scientific evidence available. This study will examine the validity and prevalence of 4 specific tasks to differentiate 108 second language learners, considering the socioeconomic factor determined by current job situation of students’ families. Immigration routes are mostly work-related and the professional situation of families is extremely diverse and might have influence in school outcomes of young students experiencing constrained economic environments. All the tasks were developed for the first levels of proficiency (A2-B1, according to European benchmarks), including subtests as main criteria of organization and different types of responses (multiple format), applied to a large sample (oversampling is recommended) of diverse students (with the migratory experience as a condition). Across a small scale exploratory study we will have useful information about the adequacy of the test for school staff members, for students and for specific research in second language. Data will be presented regarding the following items: verbal analogies, semantic associations, picture naming, and morphological extraction. The main focus will be on the evaluation of the cognitive academic language proficiency depending on socioeconomic backgrounds identified through the professional situation of two-parent families and attending to their job skills (graduate and non-graduate). The results confirmed the hypothesis that students from low income immigrant families experienced worst performance in general tasks. Implications will be discussed considering that limited socioeconomic families have more failure to provide their children cognitive stimulating activities inside home routines comparing to more stable immigrant contexts.

Keywords: Assessment in Second Language, Reliability, Immigrant School Students, Low-income Backgrounds

The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation, Volume 22, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 31, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 723.697KB)).

Sandra Andrade Figueiredo

Post-doctoral Researcher, Higher Institute for Applied Psychology, Higher Institute for Applied Psychology, Lisbon, Portugal, Portugal

Margarida Alves Martins

Full Professor, Higher Institute for Applied Psychology, Higher Institute for Applied Psychology, Lisbon, Portugal, Portugal

Carlos Fernandes da Silva

Full Professor, Department of Education, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Cristina Simões

Director and Assistant Teacher, ISDOM - Instituto Superior D. Dinis, Marinha Grande, Portugal

Degree and Master in Sociology