With climbing percentages of linguistic diversity within the United States population, teachers must be prepared to work with English language learners in school and community settings. In this paper, we utilized a multiple-case study design to describe and explore the learning of four undergraduate teacher candidates enrolled in a university course on the assessment of English language learners. Working to fulfill the course and clinical requirements for the English as a Second Language endorsement, candidates engaged in fieldwork and conducted authentic language assessments to glean the unique sociocultural and linguistic backgrounds, abilities, and needs of students to inform subsequent instruction. Findings indicated that candidates benefited from diverse school and community field placements that matched their programs of study and cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Additionally, findings demonstrated the affordances of community sites where candidates had authentic and low-stakes opportunities to engage in professional practice, juxtaposed with high-stakes classroom settings where cooperating teachers often limited candidate involvement due to the focus on standardized testing. We close with implications and recommendations for field-based teacher preparation for English language learners.
© Heineke and Davin, 2014.