English as a Second Language

Intake Interview - Student Form

This page will address two areas of assessment. The first is the initial assessment of screening and identification. It consists of two parts:

1.      a. Intake Interview -based on the information gathered proceed to
          b. Assessment A or Assessment B - These assessments may or may not be completed during the initial week.

The second area of assessment is the ongoing practice of assessment in the classroom. Please refer to Classroom Assessment which is further down this page. This involves the use of the ESL BENCHMARKS. Please follow the link provided below in Classroom Assessment.

Assessment A
Your student has very limited English. (You will need all of the links A1 and A2 to complete the assessment).

Assessment A



Assessment B

Your student is able to communicate using simple vocabulary and phrases. To determine an appropriate reading level please review the following:

Determine Entry Level

There are two graded word lists. One is an adaptation of the Jerry Johns Reading Inventory and the other is a word list (List 2) that is taken from the Canadian Adult Reading Assessment. Both were adapted by ESL Services at the Calgary Public School Board and were kindly shared with CESD. The second list may be used with older students.

The student reads the graded word list.

Begin by saying, “Please look over these columns and choose one you would feel comfortable reading.”

Once the student has chosen a column, say: “Please read the words out loud. If you do not know a word, you may take a guess. If you want to skip a word, you may.

As the student reads, record what s/he says. Any word that is mispronounced should be written as the student pronounces it.

•Indicates correct
// indicates no response

dk indicates “don’t know”

v-e-s separated letters indicate a naming or sounding out of the letters.

A score of lower than 9/10 indicates where the student should begin reading the passages.

If a student scores 100% on reading list D2 then the first reading passage would be D3.

If the student achieves 100% comprehension on the first two passages s/he reads, skip a level and move to a higher level passage.

The reading passages are all on this web link. Please make two copies of the reading passage and one of the comprehension questions.

If the student’s comprehension score is at the frustration level on the first passage s/he reads, have him/her read at a lower level.

Graded Word Lists 1 Teacher Copy

Graded Word Lists Student Copy

Graded Word List 2

The following reading passages can be used to assess reading levels. Please make two copies of the reading passage .

List 1 - To be used with most students

1..1A Green Frog List 1A-PP

1.2 A Green Frog ques

2.1 At The Zoo

2.2 At the Zoo Ques. 1 D-1 1

3.1 A Spider Friend List 1 D-2

3.2 A Spider Friend ques

4.1 The Cricket Song List 1 D-3

4.2 Cricket Song Ques D-3

5.1 Oldest Living Things List 1 D-4

5.2 Oldest Living Things Ques List 1 D-4

6.1 Flight List 1 D-5

6.2 Flight Ques

7.1 Sunflowers List 1 D-6

7.2 Sunflowers Ques

The above passages roughly correspond to grade levels, ie. D3 is approximately at upper grade 2 and beginning to mid grade 3 level. Depending on the readability scale used reading passages have variances so it is best left for the teacher to estimate the reading passage level to be used.

List 2

To be used with older students who have some reading skills. To determine entry reading level use Word List 2 first.

Graded Word List#2 Student Tracking Sheet

After determining a level, use the following reading passages (2 copies so you can complete a reading record) and questions:

After determining a reading level it is recommended that you determine a writing level. Ask the students to provide a paragraph that describes one of their first experiences here in Alberta or perhaps a favorite activity that they enjoy in their spare time. It is also recommended that you ask them to provide a writing sample in their first language. Even though you may not understand what the student has written, the sample may be valuable if you suspect learning problems later on. At that time you may wish to find a translator who can translate the sample and it may become apparent that there were limited writing abilities in the first language also. Ideally it would be great if we could do this right from the beginning but getting certified translators is a challenge in rural Alberta.

You can use the following writing criteria to help you determine their writing proficiency:

Student Writing Sample

Student Writing Sample(2)

Classroom Assessment

Assessment is the overall process of gathering data and various strategies such as observation, performance assessments, tests, and portfolios are just some methods to gather information. Assessment of ESL students is even more of a challenge. Some cautions are:

  • Comparing ESL students' scores to test norms is a questionable practice, because norms are generally based on mainstream, monolingua or English proficient students.
  • Limited opportunity to provide diagnostic tests in the students' first language.
  • Cultually specific situations, viewpoints, or objects can put ESL students at a disadvantage.
  • Test taking may be unfamiliar to the student.
  • The oral directions for a test may be even more daunting or intimidating the test itself.
  • ESL Benchmarks - It is highly recommended that each ESL student be assessed using the ESL Benchmark tracking sheets. The sheets should be used for:

Initial Assessment

Periodic assessment particularly before each reporting period. Please take the time to read the recommendations for administering the Benchmarks.


Principles of ESL Assessment
Assessment should:

  • provide information about how well students are progressing toward English language proficiency and how well they are doing the subject areas of the curriculum
  • meet the requirements of the school and Chinook's Edge School Division # 73
  • include a record of students' accomplishments, samples of work, evaluations, summaries of achievement to date, and goals for further learning
  • indicate patterns of error and gaps or strengths in language and literacy
  • provide information about process, product and attitude.

Tips for Appropriate Assessment

  • Focus on meaning rather than on language errors; e.g. grammar mistakes
  • Explain what and how you grade. Show examples of good work, use rubrics with clear criteria. Involve the student in the use of criteria if possible.
  • Grades should reflect a variety of performances such as participation in projects, portfolios, and oral explanations.
  • Adapt tests and test administration by giving students more time, having readers read the questions, administering the test over two seatings or reducing the number of questions that evaluate the same outcome.
  • (from ESL Guide to Implementation K- 9) P. 135

The ESL Guide to Implementation (K-9) and The ESL Guide to Implementation (10-12) are excellent sources of information with regard to strategies to evaluate students in the classroom.