Supporting ELL/ESL students with writing responses

I assigned the practice PT at end of Unit 3 and am grading the writing responses. I have a couple students whose English skills are quite limited. Are ESL/ELL students able to receive writing support for the actual performance task from other adults for their writing?

The particular writing response that motivated me to write this post follows. The student wrote:
“It is tend to run up balloon, many balloon carry the house to the sky. The function is make with different parameter by random numbers, this function would draw a balloon random size between 15 to 20, and with different color made by random RGB value. Each balloon position is different too. The user should see different colors of balloons and a house and different cloud each time they run the grogram.”

Would the student earn the point for explaining the purpose of the program? The first sentence doesn’t make sense, but I think the read would understand if s/he looked at program code and video of program running.

Thanks in advance!

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Hi @p00057079

Great question! There is no penalty for grammar. That being said, I think it would be a good skill to teach your students how to repeat the question in an answer a bit. For example, if a question says “What is the purpose of your program?” do you think your students would be able to rephrase the question in their answer with “The purpose of my program is…”. I have also seen teachers use sentence stems for PRACTICE PTs .

Last year I have a practice EXPLORE as my final exam. I had one student with terrible anxiety around writing (not ELL, but still a hurdle). I gave him sentence stems and he was able to complete the task and score highly on it.

Does that help?

Happy Holidays!


I have a S.E. with a documented disability in English language formation. Her disability is not simply a matter of poor syntax. She has a great deal of trouble expressing herself in a coherent manner. When we do the practice PTs requiring written explanations, I spend a lot of time with her asking, “What do you mean by …?”. She gets frustrated by my questions. I must admit it gets a bit tiresome for me, also.
I like the suggestions @kaitie_o_bryan has made. I would like to hear other suggestions.

Kaitie is correct in that students aren’t graded on grammar. It really is just the rubric. The graders at last year’s grading made efforts to follow the rubric based on the content of the responses, so as long as the grader can understand the student, that’s as good as the grammar/spelling needs to be. I am however concerned about cases when even someone trying hard to interpret the words cannot make sense of them (such as that first sentence), so students are still encouraged to proofread and make an effort to communicate effectively.



There should be someone in your building/district that works with the CB to provide the accommodations needed. In my experience, accommodations like extended time or reduced distractions are approved for the paper/pencil exams. The PTs pose a challenge as you can only monitor what is done in your classroom. I do speak with staff members about the unique nature of this assignment. I suppose students can independently use tools like dictionaries, speech-to-text programs and other tech tools to complete the written sections.

Happy computing,


I will definitely use sentence stems for my ELL students. Love the idea! Thanks!

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So I am gathering that the student is not able to receive help with writing unless s/he is allowed accommodations. I will do a little digging to see who in the building/district can help me find out if my ELL students can receive support. Thanks!