Bilingual Assessment Service (BAS)
You may be concerned about an English language Learner (ELL) in your school who is not progressing as expected. If a student has been in the school system for at least two terms, with extra support through ESOL funding and still does not progress, one of your next steps might be to contact the Bilingual Assessment Service (BAS).
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Learn about the Bilingual Assessment Service and how to obtain its assistance.
- About the BAS
- Who qualifies?
- Referring a student to the BAS
- How the bilingual assessment works
- Possible results of a bilingual assessment
- Further information
Before accessing the BAS, consider ESOL funding and follow that process.
A bilingual assessment adds to your understanding of a student’s functioning and achievement in their first language and collects information about what might be impacting on learning (for example: social and emotional health).
- Over 75 Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLBs) around the country are trained to do these assessments. They each work with a bilingual support person to recommend ways to help support students.
- A bilingual assessment can help distinguish between language learning needs, and additional learning support needs including social/emotional needs, through a dual assessment process in the student's first language and English.
- The BAS is funded by the Ministry of Education.
- There is no cost to your school.
A BAS referral may be considered if you notice a cluster of the following factors.
- is not making expected gains in English language acquisition even with ESOL-funded support
- has an unclear educational history or there is evidence of disrupted or no schooling before coming to New Zealand
- is withdrawn or seems depressed
- participates to little or no extent in class
- is disruptive or aggressive, or behaves erratically
- does not complete any or much work.
Who does not qualify
- International fee-paying students, although schools may contract private services with costs being covered through fees.
- New Zealand-born students, although they may be considered if they have spent long periods of time out of New Zealand.
- ELL where the history of needs and support is already understood so a BAS is not needed to inform teaching and support approaches.
You make a request for a BAS through the RTLB service.
- Complete and submit the Referral to Bilingual Assessment Service application form [PDF, 522 KB].
- Save the form to your desktop before completing, as this is not an online form and information can be lost.
Please attach supporting evidence to this form. To gather this information, you may need to observe the student over a period of time and note your concerns about their learning and behaviour.
The types of information the RTLB service would like to receive are:
- The student's education before arriving in New Zealand — how many years they attended, the type of school (rural, city) and whether they attended regularly.
- Support already provided to the student, such as through ESOL funding, teacher's aide support, translation, counselling, individual learning plan, access to computer-based learning.
- Social interaction — how the student interacts with their peers, both in and outside the classroom.
- Physical disabilities or other factors that might affect the student’s learning.
Send the application to your liaison RTLB. They will check that all the required information is there and send it on to the RTLB bilingual assessor and/or cluster manager.
Once approved by the RTLB cluster and the Ministry ESOL Refugee and Migrant team, the RTLB bilingual assessor will arrange the bilingual assessment. This may be several weeks after you made the referral.
The assessment involves the student and whānau to:
- gather basic information about them, their family and their experiences
- understand their confidence in first language
- understand comprehension and production of written and spoken English text
- understand social and emotional state, including attitudes
The student is assessed using their first language for:
- sound/letter knowledge
- spoken vocabulary
- retention of spoken language and structural strengths and gaps (ROL)
- reading proficiency/competency — sound/word knowledge, basic word recognition, fluency, comprehension, recall, reread, writing proficiency/competency, written vocabulary, dictation, free writing, editing.
The assessment may indicate that the student:
- is progressing normally for a student acquiring a new language
- has unexpected linguistic difficulties that are affecting learning progress
- is experiencing cultural and social trauma or adjustment difficulties at school and/or at home that are affecting English acquisition and learning progress
- has needs in their first language and cultural contexts, which also affect learning and English acquisition
- has existing delay or disability which affect all aspects of their learning including linguistic progress in their current contexts
- has not received adequate or appropriate programming and support.
The RTLB assessor prepares a report that summarises the information gathered from the assessment and recommends ways to meet the student's learning needs. This is sent to your school via your liaison RTLB.
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