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Blog: Grammar and State Testing


Welcome to 3D's first of a three part blog!  

Today's Blog:  

  • What does grammar have to do with state mandated testing and performance?

Future Blogs:

  • What’s difficult (grammatical forms) for students to understand and write?
  •  How to approach grammar teaching so that students and teacher meet functional goals, i.e. improved reading, listening, speaking, and writing for home, community, and academic tasks?
  •  Resources: Some ideas on how to use these.


Our Issue:      

      As a high school English teacher of students learning English as a second language, I might be very frustrated inthis time of district/school pacing guides and State mandated testing. I see my students’ papers: Grammatical errors are evident. I read the released questions for the California Standards Test. I think: No wonder students learning English have lower scores than age mates. This is the type of language I see:

Excerpted from CST Released Questions:


Complex Sentence “If this book were to be added to the bibliography in Document A, which of the following entries would be correct?”

Coordinative Conjunction: If

Excerpted from a release question story:


  “ NARRATOR: As the last of the delegates were putting their signatures to the Constitution, Dr. Franklin, observing from the side, spoke to a few of the delegates standing near him.”

Embedded gerund clause (observing from the side)

Prepositional phrases: 7


    We (teachers, parents, students, and tutors) struggle: We struggle with questions such as these:

  •  How can I provide my students with learning experiences that will promote oral language skills, aka talking, as well as the ability to write and perform well on State mandated testing.
  • Is working on grammar worth it?
  •  Do I get enough bang for my instructional buck? Do my students?   

    The answer is ‘yes.’ Students need to understand the grammar of the language they read in texts and on tests. In a 2001 study conducted for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the authors reported the effects of a study that modified the “linguistic” features of a math test assessing the math proficiency of students classified as Limited English Speakers (LEP) and non- LEP. “…the modified English accommodation {linguistically modified} enabled LEP students to achieve scores most comparable to those of non-LEP students.” (CSE Technical Report 536, 2001, p. viii)


    In California, we are not providing linguistically modified State testing. Perhaps the cost would be prohibitive. Perhaps our students would benefit more from learning the complex language that they will someday need if they are to have the opportunity to attend college. So, how do we help our students to both understand English academic language and to better express themselves in English orally and in writing?    



 Get these questions and many more answered!

Free Online Mechanics Workshop!     

Coming February 2013 

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 and an invitation to the Mechanics Workshop.


Assessment of mechanical errors

Training students in error identification and correction

 Potential Lessons:

Fragments Run-ons

Frequently misspelled words and MORE!

Email us and let us know your preference!!      




 See our next 3D blog for research-based answers to the question:  

What’s difficult (grammatical forms) for students to understand and write?     





CSE Technical Report 536, NAEP 2001 Report:

Harkins-May. Conversations with Conjunctions:;sSearchWord

Davis-Perkins & Chapman. Talk/Write Program: 




Featured Link:

 Dave’s ESL Café Website

The internet meeting place for ESL + EFL  teachers + students  from around the world. 

     Dave’s ESL café is an excellent resource not only for ESL teachers and students, but for everyone!  As a teacher, I was most interested in the specific grammar lessons and impressed with the endless ideas listed under the cookbook link.  Grammar practice can seem boring but click the game link and you have a comprehensive list of games for students to practice most of those usually tedious skills. The student resources are just as thorough including a student blog from students around the world. So check out Dave’s ESL Café website to build and improve your repertoire of grammar lessons!  






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