Development of Illustrations as Image Supports for English Language Learners in Large-Scale Testing: A Report on the Procedure for Designing Vignette Illustrations

This paper presents a framework and a procedure for developing vignette illustrations as a form of testing accommodation for English language learners (ELLs). Vignette illustrations are defined as illustrations added to test items originally created without illustrations, with the intent to provide a visual support for ELLs that increases their chances of accessing the content of those test items. The development of both the framework and the procedure are part of the activities of the National Science Foundation-funded project, “Design and Use of Illustrations in Test Items as a Form of Accommodation for English Language Learners in Science Assessment,” whose ultimate goal is to identify whether and how the presence of vignette illustrations produces substantial differences in the performance of ELLs on science tests by minimizing language proficiency in the language of testing as a source of measurement error. The framework provides developers with the reasonings needed to think about the vignette illustrations they need to develop; it postulates the existence of several functions of illustrations, formalizes a set of basic principles for the design of vignette illustrations, and proposes a visual grammar for examining illustrations. The procedure establishes the actions and conditions needed to properly develop the vignette illustrations; it establishes a set of dimensions that testing programs and test developers need to take into consideration in order to standardize the characteristics of the vignette illustrations used,
identifies the professionals that should participate in the process of illustration development, and establishes the steps that need to be taken to develop the vignette illustrations.