Transadaptation: 5 Key Points Publishers Should Know When Creating Assessments

student works transadaptation

Lost in translation is more than a cute idiom. For English Language Learners (ELL) and their educators, loss in translation is a genuine experience. Transadaptation builds the best meaning even for assessments. Teachers need help, and publishers can provide solutions. K-12 publishers and providers can help them by following these five key points to transadapt assessments.


1.) Use Transadaptation Best Practices Upfront

First, publishers use transadaptation best practices to make tests that meet linguistic and cultural expectations. Ask content teams to embed various ways for teachers to assess students’ understanding of topics. This upfront investment makes test validation easier later in the process. Besides, cultural bias is minimized from the get-go. Content teams craft various pathways for students and teachers to meet learning goals. Leaders direct writing teams, showing them how to weave project-based learning for teachers to assess students in their preferred languages.


2.) Transadaptations Start at the Linguistic Level

As a leader, remind content teams to embrace the whole student – not just the fraction of the student visible as the English learner – into the classroom. Encourage instructional design teams to focus on the target audience during the design process. English is not as phonetic as Spanish. So, testing a student in Spanish on silent vowels will not work. Ask design teams to create a teacher’s toolkit that embeds assessment into the instructional materials. Besides that, transadaptation accounts for the social-emotional learning of ELL students. Make assessments that embolden students to share and embrace the complexities of bilingualism.


3.) Publishing Leaders Review Language Construction for Transadaptations

So, basics matter. Leaders remind content teams to pay attention to the rules of the source language. Yes, a math assessment seems like a good candidate for machine translation. Urge designers to refresh their skills on the basics. Encourage writers to review directions for grade level and age appropriateness. Rules in English, such as writing -teen after the number to hold tens, do not work in other languages.


4.) Transadaptation Experts Review Assessments for Cultural Bias

Still, in high-stakes assessment scenarios, the transadaptation mistakes could cost a student their degree or certification. Publishing leaders staff or hire outside experts to review texts for idiomatic expressions, language style, and cultural relevancy of each item. Together, publishers and pros ensure the integrity of the assessment. Translators and editors minimize differences between the languages when writing an assessment for a bilingual student.


5.) Support Teachers with Diverse Materials For Transadaptations

So, give teachers support. Lead ID teams to create diverse materials. Teachers in dual classrooms need materials, resources, and assessments in many languages. Besides that, educators need to know how to use the assessments. Create content that is easy to access and use in many languages. Some teachers may be in a bilingual classroom. Still, many nonbilingual educators teach in multi-linguistic classrooms. These teachers need resources, too. Publishers provide support, various assessment modalities, and quality programs for teachers in multilingual classrooms.


Publishing leaders drive equity and accessibility when they invest in creating assessments when texts are transadapted rather than translated.  Also, content teams weave transadapted items throughout the curriculum to embed assessments. So, publishers give teachers a toolkit that evaluates the whole child, not just the English-speaking student.


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