Developing an Interpretive Argument to Guide the Use of Portfolio-based Language Assessment in Beginning Adult English Language Literacy Classes

Language and literacy challenges present significant barriers to the successful settlement of newcomers to Canada, particularly for beginning adult English language literacy learners (BELLs). BELLs who do not have well-developed literacy skills in their first language often have neither the formal learning strategies needed to approach the task of second language learning, nor the oral vocabulary and sentence patterns to support the process of literacy development in English (Bigelow & Tarone, 2004). The lack of research-based evidence regarding how to best assess BELLs in Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) programs creates challenges for funders, policymakers, and practitioners in ensuring that their assessment system positively impacts student learning and provides valid (meaningful, useful, and appropriate) assessment results. The purpose of this project is to examine the validity of the newly mandated Canadian Language Benchmark-based progress assessment in LINC entitled Portfolio-based Language Assessment (PBLA: Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks [CCLB], 2019) from BELLs’ and their instructors’ perspectives. This project will fill key gaps in the literature as validity evidence to support the use of PBLA in LINC from BELLs’ perspectives is currently lacking.