Pearson Test of English Language Learning (TELL) Unveiled at ISTE 2015

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Schools Pilot Test New Tablet-Based Assessment, Report High Levels of Student Engagement

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Pearson today launched the TELL (Test of English Language Learning), a tablet-based assessment developed to support schools as they ensure that the growing population of English language learners (ELLs) build English language skills and stay on track to meet today’s rigorous academic standards. Unveiled at ISTE 2015, TELL leverages reliable and accurate automated scoring technologies to give teachers quick access to the information they need to inform instruction, while also providing district leaders with the data they need to meet state and federal reporting requirements.

TELL is an interactive assessment experience. Students watch video clips, interact with pictures and words, answer questions out loud and in writing, provide summaries of text they read, respond to oral prompts, and engage with language in a variety of ways. They listen, write, read and speak in authentic contexts, just as they need to be able to do to achieve academically in English-only instruction settings. TELL screens, diagnoses and monitors each student’s progress throughout the school year.

Butterfield Ranch Elementary School, a unique learning community with a diverse population of students, in Chino Hills, California, participated in the pilot testing of TELL during the 2014-15 school year. Located in an affluent area, the school serves many families from the upper socioeconomic range, but also about 200 students who come from lower performing schools from around Chino Valley Unified School District under No Child Left Behind provisions. Many of the school’s ELL students are Spanish speaking, but others also speak Chinese and other Asian languages.

When teachers at Butterfield began to use TELL, Principal Rod Federwisch said he had never seen an assessment like it. Comparing TELL to a paper and pencil assessment that they deliver to ELL students, one-on-one, every year, he said, “Having groups of students take the test at the same time gave the test administrators literally hundreds of hours back from the time that was previously invested in testing. I can also see how using an online format will give us the test results much faster and with more accuracy.”

In addition, Federwisch said that the students were overwhelmingly positive about TELL. “Many thought that they were playing some kind of educational game and really tried hard to score well. They all wanted to know how well they had performed. One boy wanted to know if we were going to give medals or prizes for the winners.”

For many of Butterfield’s students, this was their first time learning with iPads. Federwisch said, “At first, some were shy about speaking to the iPad. After a few minutes, they realized that with their headphones on, no one could hear them and they were fine. We only have desktop computers in a lab, so this was a very new experience for many of them.”

Old Adobe Union School District, in California’s southern Sonoma County, also was involved in the TELL pilot testing. The TK-6 elementary district with 1,750 students, of which approximately 550 are ELLs, first participated in a small pilot of TELL in the fall of 2014. District Curriculum Director Craig Conte said the assessment looked so promising that he contacted the TELL development team about being involved in a large-scale district wide pilot, which was run in the winter.

Conte said, “The assessment is unique for a couple of reasons. It doesn’t require intense teacher involvement for testing, it engages students in a meaningful interaction with the assessment, and it gives assessment feedback in areas of language development that we find difficult to assess unless a student is working with a test administrator in a one-on-one setting.”

Like Federwisch, Conte said his students enjoyed the assessment. “It is interactive and has a variety of engaging activities. The touchpad, speaking and listening and visuals all combined to create a personal experience in the assessment.”

With TELL, student responses—written and spoken—are automatically scored by Pearson’s automated scoring technologies, providing teachers with access to accurate results to inform instruction within minutes. Over the past 15 years, Pearson’s spoken and written language assessment technologies have scored millions of responses and are supported by research studies that demonstrate that they score as accurately as an expert human grader.

“TELL puts a powerful tool for measuring the progress of ELL students as they build English language skills in the hands of teachers around the country,” said Alistair Van Moere, Ph.D., head of Pearson’s assessment product solutions. “And as Principal Federwisch describes, it provides an engaging assessment environment for students, making it an interactive and even fun experience.”

Fully scalable, TELL can be used with just one student at a time, a small to large group, or for whole-class administration at the school or district level.

TELL will be available in August 2015 for back-to-school. For more information about, visit

About Pearson
Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information about Pearson, visit

Media Contact: Laura Howe, laura.howe(at)pearson(dot)com, or ​(202) 471-2187

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