Tell me a story : scoring and analysis of the English oral narrative skills of second grade Spanish-speaking English-language learners
McFarland, Laura Ann
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Competence with oral narrative discourse is associated with both reading comprehension and academic achievement in general. However, most research on narratives has been conducted with monolingual English speaking children and the theoretical frameworks used to measure narrative skills are predominantly based on what is known about the narrative skills of this population. There has been much less research examining the narrative skills of English language learners (ELLs) and how to best assess these skills. This exploratory study examined the characteristics of the English oral narratives of Spanish-speaking ELLs (SS-ELLs). The narrative data are a subset of data collected as part of a model demonstration project conducted by faculty from The University of Texas in partnership with a central Texas school district. The student sample included 42 SS-ELLs enrolled in a bilingual second grade classroom. Transcripts of stories told in response to a picture prompt were coded and analyzed according to three narrative scoring systems: story grammar analysis, Narrative Assessment Profile, and Narrative Scoring Scheme. Results of these analyses were used to: 1) describe the qualities of the English oral stories of Spanish-speaking ELLs in terms of their organization and production; 2) examine how each scoring system characterizes the sample in terms of expected performance according to its criteria; 3) identify the stable features of narratives whose performance is rated consistently across measures and aspects of scoring systems that are well matched and mismatched to evaluate those features; and 4) identify characteristics of scoring systems that produce information that is useful to instructional planning for SS-ELLs in ESL settings. Recommendations for analyzing the oral narratives of SS-ELLs in ways that are reliable and useful to instructional planning are offered.