Core Academic Language Skills (CALS) Assessment Design and Development

The goal of this project is to develop and validate a computer-adaptive test (CAT)  version of Core Academic Language Skills (CALS) Instrument for both English proficient and bilingual English learning students at intermediate or higher levels of English proficiency in grades 4 through 8. The CALS Instrument is an existing assessment designed and validated to measure academic language skills that support reading comprehension across content areas, but it was not developed specifically for bilingual English learning students. English learners typically become proficient in basic reading skills and in colloquial language skills in a relatively short period of time, but developing the academic language required in the upper elementary years and beyond to understand increasingly complex academic texts tends to be more challenging. This project will develop an assessment tool to help teachers identify individual differences in language skills that can help address reading comprehension challenges in monolingual and bilingual children.


The project will take place in Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Tennessee. We are now in the first phase of this proejcts in which we are developing item specifications, generate an exapnded tem test bank  and, simultaneously, iteratively developing the computer-adaptive testing (CAT) application. During this initial phase, small-scale studies with students in grades4 to 8 will inform the iterative design of the assessment items and CAT usability data will inform further refinement.

This four-year project is being supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A190034 awarded to Paola Uccelli (PI), with Christopher D. Barr, Jeremy MIciak, and Emily Phillips Galloway as Co-PIs. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. For more information, see

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