Benchmarks

What are benchmarks?

According to ask.com, educational benchmarks are “specific points of reference related to levels of performance or outcomes against which students are monitored or measured. They may also be defined as targets that are used to analyse output of students, and staff as well, on a continuous basis in order to identify effectiveness and/or efficiency. This may also be applied to processes within educational institutions.”

Put simply, educational benchmarks are specific abilities or knowledge that students are expected to develop before the end of the course. Teachers use benchmarks to make sure that students are “on track” to succeed.

Our ESL program uses benchmarks with students so they understand the expectations placed on them as well as to give them feedback on their progress.

ESL Benchmarks

Note: These benchmarks are drawn from the K-12 spectrum of Common Cores State Standards. They are aligned to proficiency levels rather than grade levels.

Elementary Grades Pre K-5 

Beginners: Proficiency Level I 

I. Conventions of Standard English 

Print upper all upper and lower case letters (1-12)

Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs

Form regular plural nous by adding /s/ or /es/ orally and in writing (grade 1 and above)

Understand and use question words (who, what, where, when, etc.)

Use frequently occurring prepositions.

Use capitalization and punctuation when writing: (Capitalize the first word in a sentence, name and use end punctuation)

Write letter or letters for most consonant and short vowel sounds (phonemes).

Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on sound-letter relationships.

Vocabulary Acquisition 

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on proficiency appropriate reading and content.

a. Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).

b. Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.

With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

a. Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.

b. Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).

c. Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).

d. Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.

II. Listening and Speaking: 

Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Respond to choice questions in which an explanation is presented.

Communicate at the word level (with the appropriate supports such as illustrations and graphics) about content area topics using academic and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, pages 12 -14)

Give personal information: first and last name, age, address and phone number

Initiate and respond to greetings

Name the days/months

Name letters of the alphabet

Give examples of rhyming words

Name numbers 1-100/common colors

Name parts of the body/clothing

Use single word responses to WH- ques. Answer yes/no, choice questions

Name common farm animals

Name objects in the home/school

Name common foods

Name members of immediate family. Name buildings in a town, occupations.

Name words for simple activities

Tell and retell main idea of a story or experience/make predictions

Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

Ask and answer questions at the word and phrase level about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

III. Reading Foundations 

Print Concepts: 

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the organization and basic features of English language print:

a. Follow words left to right, top to bottom

b. recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

c. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

d. recognize and name all upper- and lower case letters of the alphabet .

e. Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word capitalization, end punctuation)

Phonological Awareness: 

a. Demonstrate awareness of spoken words, syllables and sounds

b. Recognize and produce rhyming words

c. Orally produce single syllable words by blending sounds and consonant blends.

d. isolate and pronounce initial medial vowel, and final sounds in single syllable words

e. Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds.

Phonics and Word Recognition 

Know and apply phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

a. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.

b. Decode regularly spelled high frequency words

c. Know final –e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.

d. Determine the number of syllables in a word.

Fluency: Read emergent level texts with purpose and understanding

IV. Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Guess intelligently at the topic of written messages when these are accompanied by illustrations.

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about a text.

Name the author and title of a text.

Describe the illustrations in the text.

Engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

V. Beginner Writing 

Understand concepts of print.

Write the letters of the alphabet.

Write first name and last name.

Label pictures or graphs.

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to communicate messages.

Reproduce drawings or diagrams of known items or ideas used in class that explain how something works.

Elementary Grades Pre K-5 

Intermediate (Levels 2-3) 

I. Intermediate Conventions of Standard English 

In addition to the beginner targeted skills, students should

Demonstrate increasing command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when

writing or speaking:

a. explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences (3-12).

b. form and use irregular plural nouns orally (k-12) and in writing (3-12).

c. use abstract nouns (e.g., childhood) (3-12).

d. form and use simple and irregular verbs (3-12).

e. form and use subject -verb and pronoun antecedent agreement

f. form and use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs.

Demonstrate increasing command of the conventions of standard English punctuation, capitalization and spelling (3-12): e.g., capitalize appropriate words in titles, use commas in an address, use commas and quotation marks in dialogs.

b. Form and use possessives.

c. Use conventional spelling for high frequency and studied words, add affixes to base words

d. Use reference tools to check spelling

II. Intermediate Listening and Speaking 

Follow agreed upon rules for conversations. Demonstrate careful listening.

Elicit clarification or further explanation about aspects of text he/she does not understand or is interested in.

Ask questions for clarifications. Build upon segments of other’s arguments. Understand the main points of other’s arguments if provided with background information and scaffolds.

Comprehend some points of disagreement in a discussion. With support and prompting, distinguish arguments not supported by evidence.

Make statements that explain his/her observations and communicate original meaning by imitating the language of others and by using other communicative strategies.

Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.

Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.

Communicate at the word and sentence level about content area topics using academic and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, pages 12-14)

Write dictated words and sentences

Write phrases/sentences for many purposes

Tell his or her first name/age/address/phone Initiate and respond to common greetings

Name family members

Name the days/months/seasons

Produce and comprehend the letters of the alphabet/numbers (1-100), common colors

Identify parts of the body, common animals and foods

Identify common objects, clothing articles./routines at home and school

Identify community places, businesses, professions, transportation

Initiate questions in the past, present, future

Tell and retell story in logical order

Express thoughts and feelings on topics to include cultural similarities and differences

Ask questions about a story

Follow multi-step oral directions

Answer questions about a story or picture Listen/can identify major elements in a story Respond to questions in past, present, future

Restate and use information from charts, graphs

*(grades 2-5) Create audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate the students’ reading / speaking fluency

*(grades 3-5) Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

III. Intermediate Reading Foundations 

Phonological Awareness: 

Know and apply proficiency level appropriate phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words:

a. Distinguish long and short syllable words when reading regularly spelled words.

b. Know spelling correspondences between regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels.

Phonics and Word Recognition 

a. Decode words with common prefixes and suffixes

b. Identify words with inconsistent but common spelling-sound correspondences

c. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.

d. Decode regularly spelled high frequency words.

e. Know final –e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.

f. Determine the number of syllables in a word.

Fluency: 

Read texts that are congruent with the students’ proficiency level with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, re-reading as necessary.

IV. Intermediate Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Identify and comprehend argument and evidence given in a text if provided with support and examples.

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about a text, identifying character and setting. Retell a story including key details. With appropriate support, determine the central message lesson or moral of a story.

Compare and contrast the adventures of characters across texts.

Describe how the illustrations in a story correspond with the text.

Understand the difference between fictional and informational texts.

Determine the meaning of academic and domain specific language in a text.

Identify who is telling the story at various points in the text.

Use text features such as sidebars, keywords, and info-graphics commonly found in information texts.

Ask and answer questions, referring specifically to the text as the basis for the answers.

Acknowledge different points of view or characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading the story aloud.

With prompting and support read materials that are appropriate for the student’s targeted proficiency level.

V. Intermediate Writing : Grades 1-5 

Produce writing which draws from and builds upon other written arguments and statements while presenting evidence.

Write an opinion piece; introduce the book or topic that is being written about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, provide a sense of closure.

Write an informative/explanatory text in which students name a topic, supply some facts about a topic, provide a sense of closure.

Write a narrative that recounts a sequence of events. Include some details about what happened, as well as temporal words to signal event order. Provide a sense of closure.

With guidance and support from teacher, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

With guidance and support from teachers, use digital tools to produce and publish writing as well as collaborate with peers.

Participate in shared research and writing projects. Explore “how to” books on a given topic, and use them to write a sequence of instructions.

With guidance and support from teachers, recall information or gather information provided from sources in order to answer a question.

Advanced ESL (PL 4-5) 

I. Conventions of Standard English (PL 4-5) 

In addition to the beginner and intermediate targeted skills, students should

Demonstrate a command of the conventions of standard English punctuation, capitalization and spelling that is approaching grade level proficiency while speaking and/or writing:

a. Use relative pronouns and relative adverbs

b. Form and use the progressive tense

c. Us e modal auxiliaries (can, may, must)

d. Use correct word order according to conventional patterns.

e. Form and use prepositional phrases

f. Form complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate run-on sentences and fragments.

g. Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., two, too, to, their/there)

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English punctuation, capitalization and spelling that approaches grade level proficiency (3-12): e.g., capitalize appropriate words in titles, use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text, use a comma before a coordinating conjunction where needed.

Use reference tools to proof read and correct writing independently.

II. Speaking and Listening (PL 4-5) 

Participate in collaborative conversations.

Demonstrate careful listening and build upon the comments of others.

Comprehend points of disagreement in a discussion. Distinguish arguments not supported by evidence.

Draw from and build upon others’ arguments and statements that provide evidence.

Articulate complete sentences and/or paragraphs using academic language and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, pages 12-14)

Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media.

*(3-5) Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

*(3-5) Create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace;

*(4-5) Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation.

III. Reading Foundations (PL 4-5) 

Phonics and Word Recognition 

Know and apply proficiency level appropriate phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words:

a. Use a combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multi-syllabic words in and out of context.

b. Decode words with a knowledge prefixes and suffixes.

c. Recognize and read grade appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Fluency: 

a. Read texts that are approaching grade level with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

b. Read texts that are approaching grade level orally with sufficient accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

c. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, re-reading as necessary.

IV. Reading Informational Texts and Literature (PL 4-5) 

Comprehend arguments and identify evidence in age-appropriate written texts on topics covered in class.

Ask and answers about a text referring explicitly to the text as the basis for answers. Determine the central message, lesson or moral of a story.

Name different types of texts and tell about their differences (stories, poems, etc.)

Describe the overall structure of a story including how the beginning introduces the story and how the ending concludes the action.

Refer to the structural parts of stories, poems, and books when discussing texts (chapter, stanza, paragraph, etc.)

Interpret info-graphics (Pie charts, bar graphs, etc.) commonly found in informational text.

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says and drawing inferences from it.

Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.

Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella told across cultures).

Compare and contrast characters from a story, drawing upon specific details in the text.

Read poetry, prose and informational text of a complexity that approaches grade level texts.

V. Advanced Writing: Grades 3-5 (Advanced PL 4-5) 

Write out the arguments and supporting evidence that the student can produce orally. Produce writing that draws from and builds upon examples.

Write an opinion piece that supports a point of view with reasons. Introduce the topic or text they are writing about and create an organizational structure that lists reasons. Provide reasons to support an opinion. Use linking words (such as because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinions and reasons. Provide a concluding section.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information. Provide a concluding statement or section.

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations. Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order. Provide a sense of closure.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. Writing should be approaching grade level expectations.

With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

(Grades 4-5) Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

ESL Benchmarks for Middle School Students 

Note: These benchmarks are drawn from the K-12 spectrum of Common Cores State Standards. They are aligned to proficiency levels rather than grade levels.

Beginners (Level 1): 

I. Conventions of Standard English 

Print upper all upper and lower case letters

Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs

Form regular plural nous by adding /s/ or /es/ orally and in writing

Understand and use question words (who, what, where, when, etc.)

Use frequently occurring prepositions.

Use capitalization and punctuation when writing: (Capitalize the first word in a sentence, name and use end punctuation)

Write letter or letters for most consonant and short vowel sounds (phonemes).

Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on sound-letter relationships.

Vocabulary Acquisition 

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on proficiency appropriate reading and content.

a. Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).

b. Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.

With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

a. Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.

b. Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).

c. Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).

d. Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.

II. Listening and Speaking 

Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Communicate at the word level (with the appropriate supports such as illustrations and graphics) about content area topics using academic and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, page 12)

Respond to choice questions in which an explanation is presented.

Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

Ask and answer questions at the word and phrase level about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

Give personal information: first and last name, age, address and phone number

Initiate and respond to greetings

Name the days/months

Name letters of the alphabet

Give examples of rhyming words

Name numbers 1-100/common colors

Name parts of the body/clothing

Use single word responses to WH- ques. Answer yes/no, choice questions

Name common farm animals

Name objects in the home/school

Name common foods

Name members of immediate family Name buildings in a town/workers

III. Reading Foundations 

Print Concepts: 

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the organization and basic features of English language print:

a. Follow words left to right, top to bottom

b. recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

c. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

d. recognize and name all upper- and lower case letters of the alphabet .

e. Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word capitalization, end punctuation)

Phonological Awareness: 

a. Demonstrate awareness of spoken words, syllables and sounds

b. Recognize and produce rhyming words

c. Orally produce single syllable words by blending sounds and consonant blends.

d. isolate and pronounce initial medial vowel, and final sounds in single syllable words

e. Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds.

Phonics and Word Recognition 

Know and apply phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

a. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.

b. Decode regularly spelled high frequency words

c. Know final –e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.

d. Determine the number of syllables in a word.

Fluency: Read emergent level texts with purpose and understanding

IV. Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Guess intelligently at the topic of written messages when these are accompanied by illustrations.

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about a text.

Name the author and title of a text.

Describe the illustrations in the text.

Engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

V. Writing (Beginners) 

Write the letters of the alphabet.

Write first name and last name.

Label pictures/graphs.

Present information pictorially.

Understand concepts of print.

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to communicate messages.

Reproduce drawings or diagrams of known items or ideas used in class that explain how something works.

Intermediate ESL Benchmark s (Levels 2-3) 

I. Conventions of Standard English 

In addition to the beginner targeted skills, students should

Demonstrate increasing command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking:

a. explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences .

b. form and use irregular plural nouns orally and in writing.

c. use abstract nouns (e.g., childhood).

d. form and use simple and irregular verbs .

e. form and use subject -verb and pronoun antecedent agreement

f. form and use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs.

g. Use intensive pronouns e.g., (myself, himself, yourself)

Demonstrate increasing command of the conventions of standard English punctuation, capitalization and spelling: e.g., capitalize appropriate words in titles, use commas in an address, use commas and quotation marks in dialogs.

a. Form and use possessives.

b. Use punctuation for effect

c. Use conventional spelling for high frequency and studied words, add affixes to base words

d. Use reference tools to check spelling.

e. Acquire and accurately use content area academic language and vocabulary

II. Listening and Speaking 

Follow agreed upon rules for conversations. Demonstrate careful listening.

Elicit clarification or further explanation about aspects of text he/she does not understand or is interested in.

Ask questions for clarifications. Build upon segments of other’s arguments. Understand the main points of other’s arguments if provided with background information and scaffolds.

Comprehend some points of disagreement in a discussion. With support and prompting, distinguish arguments not supported by evidence.

Communicate at the word and sentence level about familiar topics, as well as content area topics using academic and domain specific vocabulary. With prompting and support, provide additional detail. (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, page 12)

Make statements that explain his/her observations and communicate original meaning by imitating the language of others and by using other communicative strategies.

Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media

Produce complete sentences when appropriate to the task and situation.

Create audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate the students’ reading / speaking fluency.

Give an oral report on a content connected topic . Use content area vocabulary. Use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. Augment the presentation with multi-media components.

III. Reading Foundations 

Phonological Awareness: 

Know and apply proficiency level appropriate phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words:

a. Distinguish long and short syllable words when reading regularly spelled words.

b. Know spelling correspondences between regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels.

Phonics and Word Recognition 

a. Decode words with common prefixes and suffixes

b. Identify words with inconsistent but common spelling-sound correspondences

c. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.

d. Decode regularly spelled high frequency words.

e. Know final –e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.

f. Determine the number of syllables in a word.

Fluency: 

Read texts that are congruent with the students’ proficiency level with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, re-reading as necessary.

IV. Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Identify and comprehend argument and evidence given in a text if provided with support and examples.

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about a text, identifying character and setting. Retell a story including key details. With appropriate support, determine the central message lesson or moral of a story.

Compare and contrast the adventures of characters across texts.

Describe how the illustrations in a story correspond with the text.

Understand the difference between fictional and informational texts.

Determine the meaning of academic and domain specific language in a text.

Identify who is telling the story at various points in the text.

Use text features such as sidebars, keywords, and info-graphics commonly found in information texts.

Ask and answer questions, referring specifically to the text as the basis for the answers.

Acknowledge different points of view or characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading the story aloud.

With prompting and support read materials that are appropriate for the student’s targeted proficiency level.

V. Intermediate Writing 

Produce writing which draws from and builds upon other written arguments and statements while presenting evidence.

Write an opinion piece; introduce the book or topic that is being written about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, provide a sense of closure.

Write an informative/explanatory text in which students name a topic, supply some facts about a topic, provide a sense of closure. Use academic vocabulary and language that is related to the topic. Establish and maintain a formal style.

Write a narrative that recounts a sequence of events. Include some details about what happened, as well as temporal words to signal event order. Provide a sense of closure.

With guidance and support from teacher, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

With guidance and support from teachers, use digital tools to produce and publish writing as well as collaborate with peers.

Participate in shared research and writing projects. Explore “how to” books on a given topic, and use them to write a sequence of instructions.

With guidance and support from teachers, recall information or gather information provided from sources in order to answer a question.

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type 2-3 pages in a single sitting.

Advanced ESL (Levels 4-5) 

I. Conventions of Standard English 

In addition to the beginner and intermediate targeted skills, students should

Demonstrate a command of the conventions of standard English punctuation, capitalization and spelling that is approaching grade level proficiency while speaking and/or writing:

a. Use relative pronouns and relative adverbs

b. Form and use the progressive tense

c. Us e modal auxiliaries (can, may, must)

d. Use correct word order according to conventional patterns.

e. Form and use prepositional phrases

f. Form complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate run-on sentences and fragments.

g. Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., two, too, to, their/there)

h. Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.

i. Recognize and correct vague pronouns

j. Recognize variations from standard English in their own and others’ writing and speaking; identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English that approaches grade level proficiency:

Demonstrate conventions of punctuation, capitalization and spelling : e.g., capitalize appropriate words in titles, use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text, use a comma before a coordinating conjunction where needed.

Knowledge of Language 

a. Vary sentence patterns for meaning, style and to engage reader interest.

b. Maintain consistency in style and tone.

c. Use reference tools to proof read and correct writing independently.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use 

Determine the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary using:

a. context clues and common reading strategies.

b. familiarity with common Greek and Latin affixes and roots.

c. reference materials and technological resources.

Gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or expression important to comprehension or expression.

Demonstrate the understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

a. interpret figures of speech in context.

b. use the relationships between words to better understand their meanings (e.g. cause/effect).

c. understand word connotations (associations) and denotations (definitions).

d. acquire and accurately use content area academic language and vocabulary, both general and domain specific.

II. Listening and Speaking 

Follow agreed upon rules for conversations. Comprehend points of disagreement in a discussion. Distinguish arguments not supported by evidence.

Draw from and build upon others’ arguments and statements that provide evidence.

Articulate complete sentences and/or paragraphs using academic language and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, page 12)

Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue..

Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.

Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Produce complete sentences when appropriate to the task and situation.

Give an oral report on a content connected topic . Use content area vocabulary. Use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. Augment the presentation with multi-media components.

III. Reading Foundations 

Phonics and Word Recognition 

Know and apply proficiency level appropriate phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words:

a. Use a combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multi-syllabic words in and out of context.

b. Decode words with a knowledge prefixes and suffixes.

c. Recognize and read grade appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Fluency:

a. Read texts that are approaching grade level with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

b. Read texts that are approaching grade level orally with sufficient accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

c. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, re-reading as necessary.

IV. Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Comprehend arguments and identify evidence in age-appropriate written texts on topics covered in class.

Ask and answers about a text referring explicitly to the text as the basis for answers. Determine the central message, lesson or moral of a story.

Name different types of texts and tell about their differences (stories, poems, etc.).

Compare and contrast texts of different genres and types in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Describe the overall structure of a story including how the beginning introduces the story and how the ending concludes the action.

Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Describe the theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details. Provide a summary of the text that is distinct from personal opinions and judgments.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in texts, including figurative and connotative meaning; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

Trace and evaluate the arguments and specific claims in informational text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting or plot.

Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

Integrate information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue. Compare one non-fiction author’s presentation of events with that of another.

Read and comprehend texts (literature and informational) that are approaching grade level complexity.

V. Advanced Writing 

Demonstrate the ability to write out the arguments and supporting evidence that the student can produce orally. Produce writing that draws from and builds upon examples.

Write an opinion piece that supports a point of view with reasons. Introduce the topic or text they are writing about and create an organizational structure that lists reasons. Provide reasons to support an opinion. Use credible sources. Use linking words (such as because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinions and reasons. Provide a concluding statement that follows from the argument presented.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information. Provide a concluding statement or section. Establish and maintain a formal style.

Use grade appropriate headings and formats. Add graphics (e.g. charts and tables) to informational texts.

Use precise language and topic related academic vocabulary.

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations. Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order. Provide a sense of closure.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. Writing should be approaching grade level expectations.

With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish as well as to interact and collaborate with others. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of 2-3 pages in a single sitting.

Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

ESL Benchmarks for High School Students

Note: These benchmarks are drawn from the K-12 spectrum of Common Cores State Standards. They are aligned to proficiency levels rather than grade levels.

Beginners (Proficiency Level 1): 

I. Conventions of Standard English 

Print upper all upper and lower case letters

Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs

Form regular plural nous by adding /s/ or /es/ orally and in writing

Understand and use question words (who, what, where, when, etc.)

Use frequently occurring prepositions.

Use capitalization and punctuation when writing: (Capitalize the first word in a sentence, name and use end punctuation)

Write letter or letters for most consonant and short vowel sounds (phonemes).

Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on sound-letter relationships.

Vocabulary Acquisition 

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on proficiency appropriate reading and content.

a. Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).

b. Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.

With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

a. Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.

b. Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).

c. Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that

are colorful).

d. Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.

II. Listening and Speaking: 

Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Respond to choice questions in which an explanation is presented.

Communicate at the word level (with the appropriate supports such as illustrations and graphics) about content area topics using academic and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, page 12)

Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

Ask and answer questions at the word and phrase level about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

Give personal information: first and last name, age, address and phone number

Initiate and respond to greetings

Name the days/months

Name letters of the alphabet

Give examples of rhyming words

Name numbers 1-100/common colors

Name parts of the body/clothing

Use single word responses to WH- ques. Answer yes/no, choice questions

Name common farm animals

Name objects in the home/school

Name common foods

Name members of immediate family Name buildings in a town/workers

Name words for simple activities

Tell and retell main idea of a story or experience/make predictions

Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

Ask and answer questions at the word and phrase level about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

III. Reading Foundations 

Print Concepts: 

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the organization and basic features of English language print:

a. Follow words left to right, top to bottom

b. recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

c. Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

d. recognize and name all upper- and lower case letters of the alphabet .

e. Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word capitalization, end punctuation)

Phonological Awareness: 

a. Demonstrate awareness of spoken words, syllables and sounds

b. Recognize and produce rhyming words

c. Orally produce single syllable words by blending sounds and consonant blends.

d. isolate and pronounce initial medial vowel, and final sounds in single syllable words

e. Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds.

Phonics and Word Recognition 

Know and apply phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

a. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.

b. Decode regularly spelled high frequency words

c. Know final –e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.

d. Determine the number of syllables in a word.

Fluency: Read emergent level texts with purpose and understanding

IV. Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Guess intelligently at the topic of written messages when these are accompanied by illustrations.

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about a text.

Name the author and title of a text.

Describe the illustrations in the text.

Engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

IV. Writing (Beginners) 

Write the letters of the alphabet.

Write first name and last name.

Label pictures/graphs.

Write dictated words and sentences.

Present information pictorially.

Understand concepts of print.

Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to communicate messages.

 

Intermediate ESL (Proficiency Levels 2-3) 

I. Intermediate Conventions of Standard English 

In addition to the beginner targeted skills, Proficiency Levels 2-3 students should demonstrate increasing command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing and/or speaking.

Students will develop the skills in order demonstrate the ability to:

a. explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences .

b. form and use irregular plural nouns orally and in writing.

c. use abstract nouns (e.g., childhood).

d. form and use simple and irregular verbs .

e. form and use subject -verb and pronoun antecedent agreement

f. form and use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs.

g. Use intensive pronouns e.g., (myself, himself, yourself)

Demonstrate increasing command of the conventions of standard English punctuation, capitalization and spelling: e.g., capitalize appropriate words in titles, use commas in an address, use commas and quotation marks in dialogs.

a. Form and use possessives.

b. Use punctuation for effect

c. Use conventional spelling for high frequency and studied words, add affixes to base words

d. Use reference tools to check spelling.

e. Acquire and accurately use content area academic language and vocabulary

II. Intermediate Listening and Speaking: 

Follow agreed upon rules for conversations

Ask questions for clarifications. Demonstrate careful listening.

Follow multi-step oral directions

Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.

Communicate at the word and sentence level about content area topics using academic and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, page 12)

Elicit clarification or further explanation about aspects of text he/she does not understand or is interested in.

Ask questions for clarifications. Build upon segments of other’s arguments. Understand the main points of other’s arguments if provided with background information and scaffolds.

Comprehend some points of disagreement in a discussion. With support and prompting, distinguish arguments not supported by evidence.

Make statements that explain his/her observations and communicate original meaning by imitating the language of others and by using other communicative strategies.

Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Identify common objects, clothing articles./routines at home and school

Identify community places, businesses, professions, transportation

Initiate questions in the past, present, future

Give an oral report on a content connected topic. Use content area vocabulary. Use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. Augment the presentation with multi-media components.

III. Intermediate Reading Foundations: 

Phonological Awareness: 

Know and apply proficiency level appropriate phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words:

a. Distinguish long and short syllable words when reading regularly spelled words.

b. Know spelling correspondences between regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels.

Phonics and Word Recognition 

a. Decode words with common prefixes and suffixes

b. Identify words with inconsistent but common spelling-sound correspondences

c. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.

d. Decode regularly spelled high frequency words.

e. Know final –e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.

f. Determine the number of syllables in a word.

Fluency: 

Read texts that are congruent with the students’ proficiency level with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, re-reading as necessary.

IV. Intermediate Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Identify and comprehend argument and evidence given in a text if provided with support and examples.

With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about a text, identifying character and setting. Retell a story including key details. With appropriate support, determine the central message lesson or moral of a story.

Compare and contrast the adventures of characters across texts.

Describe how the illustrations in a story correspond with the text.

Understand the difference between fictional and informational texts.

Determine the meaning of academic and domain specific language in a text.

Identify who is telling the story at various points in the text.

Use text features such as sidebars, keywords, and info-graphics commonly found in information texts.

Ask and answer questions, referring specifically to the text as the basis for the answers.

Acknowledge different points of view or characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading the story aloud.

With prompting and support read materials that are appropriate for the student’s targeted proficiency level.

V. Intermediate Writing: 

Produce writing which draws from and builds upon other written arguments and statements while presenting evidence.

Write an opinion piece; introduce the book or topic that is being written about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, provide a sense of closure.

Write an informative/explanatory text in which students name a topic, supply some facts about a topic, provide a sense of closure. Use academic vocabulary and language that is related to the topic. Establish and maintain a formal style.

Write a narrative that recounts a sequence of events. Include some details about what happened, as well as temporal words to signal event order. Provide a sense of closure.

With guidance and support from teacher, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

With guidance and support from teachers, use digital tools to produce and publish writing as well as collaborate with peers.

Participate in shared research and writing projects. Explore “how to” books on a given topic, and use them to write a sequence of instructions.

With guidance and support from teachers, recall information or gather information provided from sources in order to answer a question.

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type 2-3 pages in a single sitting.

Advanced (Proficiency Levels 4-5) 

I. Advanced: Conventions of Standard English 

In addition to the beginner and intermediate targeted skills, students should

Demonstrate a command of the conventions of standard English punctuation, capitalization and spelling that is approaching grade level proficiency while speaking and/or writing:

a. Use relative pronouns and relative adverbs

b. Form and use the progressive tense

c. Use modal auxiliaries (can, may, must)

d. Use correct word order according to conventional patterns.

e. Form and use prepositional phrases

f. Form complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate run-on sentences and fragments.

g. Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., two, too, to, their/there)

h. Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.

I. Recognize and correct vague pronouns

j. Recognize variations from standard English in their own and others’ writing and speaking; identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.

Use parallel structure.

Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participle, prepositional, absolute) to convey specific types of meanings and to add variety and interest to writing.

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English that approaches grade level proficiency:

Demonstrate conventions of punctuation, capitalization and spelling : e.g., capitalize appropriate words in titles, use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text, use a comma before a coordinating conjunction where needed, use a semi-colon to link two or more closely related independent clauses. Use a colon to introduce a quotation or list.

Maintain consistency in style and tone.

Choose language that expresses ideas precisely and concisely, recognizing and eliminating wordiness and redundancy.

Use reference tools to proof read and correct writing independently.

Write and edit writing so that it conforms to the guidelines in a style manual (e.g., MLA Handbook).

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use 

Determine the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary using:

a. context clues and common reading strategies.

b. familiarity with common Greek and Latin affixes and roots.

c. reference materials and technological resources.

Gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or expression important to comprehension or expression.

Demonstrate the understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

a. interpret figures of speech in context.

b. use the relationships between words to better understand their meanings (e.g. cause/effect).

c. understand word connotations (associations) and denotations (definitions).

d. acquire and accurately use content area academic language and vocabulary, both general and domain specific.

II. Advanced Listening and Speaking 

Participate in collaborative conversations.

Demonstrate careful listening and build upon the comments of others. Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their opinions.

Comprehend points of disagreement in a discussion. Distinguish arguments not supported by evidence.

Draw from and build upon others’ arguments and statements that provide evidence.

Articulate complete sentences and increasingly complex, connected language (paragraphs) using academic language and domain specific vocabulary (See suggested WIDA aligned academic topics, page 12)

Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media

Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

Summarize portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media.

Demonstrate a culturally appropriate understanding of language register: Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation.

III. Advanced Foundations of Reading 

Phonics and Word Recognition 

Know and apply proficiency level appropriate phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words:

a. Use a combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multi-syllabic words in and out of context.

b. Decode words with a knowledge prefixes and suffixes.

c. Recognize and read grade appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Fluency: 

a. Read texts that are approaching grade level with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

b. Read texts that are approaching grade level orally with sufficient accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

c. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, re-reading as necessary.

IV. Advanced: Reading Informational Texts and Literature 

Comprehend arguments and identify evidence in age-appropriate written texts on topics covered in class.

Ask and answers about a text referring explicitly to the text as the basis for answers. Determine the central message, lesson or moral of a story.

Name different types of texts and tell about their differences (stories, poems, etc.).

Compare and contrast texts of different genres and types in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Describe the overall structure of a story including how the beginning introduces the story and how the ending concludes the action.

Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Describe the theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details. Provide a summary of the text that is distinct from personal opinions and judgments.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in texts, including figurative and connotative meaning; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

Trace and evaluate the arguments and specific claims in informational text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting or plot.

Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

Integrate information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue. Compare one non-fiction author’s presentation of events with that of another.

Read and comprehend texts (literature and informational) that are approaching grade level complexity.

V. Advanced Writing : 

Demonstrate the ability to write out the arguments and supporting evidence that the student can produce orally. Produce writing that draws from and builds upon examples.

Write an opinion piece that supports a point of view with reasons. Introduce the topic or text they are writing about and create an organizational structure that lists reasons. Provide reasons to support an opinion. Use credible sources. Use linking words (such as because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinions and reasons. Provide a concluding statement that follows from the argument presented.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information. Provide a concluding statement or section. Establish and maintain a formal style.

Use grade appropriate headings and formats. Add graphics (e.g. charts and tables) to informational texts.

Use precise language and topic related academic vocabulary.

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations. Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order. Provide a sense of closure.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. Writing should be approaching grade level expectations.

With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish as well as to interact and collaborate with others. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of 2-3 pages in a single sitting.

Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating an understanding of the subject under investigation.

Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

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