Language Magazine’s look at the latest in testing
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), through its exclusive distributor Language Testing International (LTI), offers language proficiency assessments in over 90 world languages. The current ACTFL assessments and rating guidelines are the products of more than 50 years of research, development and application. Official ACTFL ratings have become a standard measure of language proficiency recognized by academic institutions, government agencies and corporations.
Every year, LTI administers official ACTFL assessments for a broad range of academic needs including program entrance, placement and graduation requirements, program evaluation and the credentialing of teachers and language professionals. Official ratings of ACTFL assessments are recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education (ACE).
ACTFL also recognizes the need for language teachers to assess the progress of their students for both formative and summative measures. In response, ACTFL has developed the Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL), a standards-based assessment system to evaluate 21st century language student performance and progress in the K12 area. The AAPPL will be available in 2012.
Avant Assessment provides competency based tools and professional development that connect educators and students with evidence, data and observation to inspire relevant personalized learning in and beyond the classroom.
For over a decade, Avant has designed and delivered multi-skill measurements of language competency. STAMP, an online proficiency assessment, provides data at levels related to ACTFL Performance Guidelines to check progress, review programs and inform decisions around staff development and instructional planning. The Placement Test can be taken anywhere, anytime so students can demonstrate competency at their convenience and educators can have data for appropriate placement in language courses.
The company’s iCAN platform provides students and educators with the environment and structure to demonstrate growth of proficiency in any language — anytime, anywhere. Within a framework of Can Do statements organized around ACTFL’s Performance Guidelines, students can be engaged learners setting goals and demonstrating competency; and teachers can review, comment and coach students.
Professional Learning services are also offered for language educators seeking insights and skills to develop proficiency oriented education. Avant leads collaborative workshops, webinars and communities to facilitate the acquisition, sharing and real-world application of insights and skills.
Holt McDougal — ¡Avancemos!
¡Avancemos! is a middle school through high school Spanish program available in levels 1a-4 designed to ensure that assessment fits the needs and abilities of students. Differentiated Assessment (Pre-AP, Heritage Learners, Modified, On-level) provides tests with different kinds of questioning, scaffolding, and support. The ExamView® Assessment Suite includes the full bank of editable questions from the Differentiated Assessment Program, as well as 20 additional multiple-choice questions per lesson.
Generate Success online can be used to create rubrics to assist in writing and spelling assessment/evaluation. The Online Assessment Platform offers an easy way for teachers to diagnose student proficiency, view student reports by objective, and generate daily student progress reports. Audio files are included to help assess listening comprehension online.
Minnesota Language Proficiency Assessments
Minnesota Language Proficiency Assessments (MLPA) are a battery of proficiency-based assessments for French, German and Spanish developed to determine whether students have attained minimal proficiency level expectations and facilitate articulation from end of secondary to beginning of post-secondary language studies.
The online tests measure reading, writing, listening and speaking proficiency and target two levels on the scale outlined by ACTFL. The assessments, developed, field-tested and revised in close collaboration with language faculty and staff at the University of Minnesota and K-16 language teachers from across the state, are considered appropriate for students completing four, possibly three, years of sequential language study.
MLPA’s contextualized settings provide authentic reasons to use the language and enable students to focus on language use rather than on a new setting. Reading and listening scores become available immediately while online grader modules allow teachers to rate writing and speaking tasks using a pass/fail holistic rubric.
Online rater-training modules for writing and speaking assessments featuring actual student samples and ratings can be accessed by teachers anytime.
English for International Students
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
PTE Academic is a computer-based test designed to deliver realistic measures of test takers’ language ability. The test is for non-native speakers who wish to study in an institution where English is the primary language of instruction. It is endorsed by and is the preferred test of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), owners of GMAT, and recognized by institutions worldwide.
Score reports show how well test takers do on the four communication skills, Listening, Reading, Speaking & Writing, as well as the enabling skills of grammar, oral fluency, pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and written discourse. Test takers are provided with information on their performance on each section so that they can improve their skills in specific areas if needed. PTE Academic has availability in test centers around the world and test center capacity is flexible and driven by demand.
Test of English as a Foreign Language — TOEFL
The TOEFL test is the most widely accepted English-language test in the world. TOEFL scores are accepted by more than 8,000 universities, agencies and other institutions in 130 countries, including the top universities in the U.S., Australia, the UK, and Canada. In an ETS survey, four out of five admissions officers surveyed and who stated a preference, prefer to use the TOEFL test. More than 25 million people have taken the TOEFL test.
The TOEFL test also has the most testing locations, with more than 4,500 secure, internet-based testing sites in 165 countries. The test is administered 30-40 times a year.
The test has four sections — reading, listening, speaking and writing — and uses integrated tasks to measure the skills needed to communicate in an academic setting.
ETS offers several resources to help students prepare for the test and study abroad. The TOEFL Journey program is a free online tool that provides customized information at every stage of the study-abroad journey. The bestselling test-prep book The Official Guide to the TOEFL Test includes in-depth information about the test from the people who make the test. And TOEFL Practice Online gives the real test experience so students can be confident and prepared.
English Literacy / Math
i-Ready Common Core State Standards Screener
Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready Common Core State Standards Screener (i-Ready CCSS Screener) provides a reading and mathematics assessment for grades 3-8 that helps educators better understand students’ needs related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in order to tailor their instruction. After administering an hour per subject online assessment to students, educators receive immediate and easy-to-understand reports available at district-, school-, class- and individual student-levels. Educators can use the assessment results to understand which standards students are most likely to struggle with, determine how prepared students are for the CCSS, identify gaps in the current curriculum, and help inform curriculum and professional development planning.
Created in part by a panel of expert advisors, the screener was built off of a strong research base that draws from a detailed body of work from the creators of the CCSS. It uses the latest models from the SBAC and PARCC, the two consortia developing the Common Assessments, and includes actual text recommended by lead CCSS developers to meet new complexity requirements and leverages states’ models for high item complexity.
Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System
Heinemann’s system covers grades K-8 and is available in a Spanish language version (Fountas & Pinnell Sistema de evaluación de la lectura) for Grades K-2.
The system offers one-on-one, comprehensive assessment for:
• Determining independent and instructional reading levels for English- and Spanish-speaking students.
• Placing students on the Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient.
• Connecting assessment to instruction with the Continuum of Literacy Learning and the Continuo de adquisición de la lectoescritura.
“The interpretation and use of benchmark assessment data are more important than the scores themselves,” said Drs. Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.
TPRI and Tejas LEE
Conducted by teachers, TPRI and Tejas LEE are two research-based tools that help teachers identify students who may be at risk for reading difficulties, deliver differentiated instruction and drive progress for struggling K-3 readers.
Shaped by the feedback of thousands of educators, TPRI (for students who receive their primary reading instruction in English) and Tejas LEE (for students who receive their primary reading instruction in Spanish) are designed to guide busy educators through every step of improving reading outcomes, helping them not only pinpoint their students’ strengths and weaknesses, but also improve their instruction by directly linking assessment results with proven interventions. With reliable progress monitoring, teachers will easily determine if their students are responding to instruction so they can make adjustments right away and provide the best support for struggling readers.
HMH Education — On Our Way to English
Assessment is at the heart of On Our Way to English — not only due to the pressures of high-stakes testing, but because sound instruction rests on knowledge. It provides formative and summative assessment resources to give teachers and administrators a clear picture of the needs, progress, and achievements of English language learners.
The Assessment Handbook complements the program with calendars, rubrics, checklists, and record forms.
The ELL Assessment Kit provides benchmark and formative assessment in all four domains of language. Created by Dr. Margo Gottlieb and endorsed by TESOL, the ELL Assessment Kit can be used throughout the year to measure student growth and to provide the evidence districts need to verify yearly progress.
Unit Progress Tests provide information about student mastery of the strategies and skills taught in each thematic unit. Each unit includes an open-ended Oral Language Assessment to monitor student progress.
Scholastic Phonics Inventory Grades 3-12+
The need for reliable, validated data has never been so important. Scholastic Phonics Inventory (SPI) provides powerful tools to make placement recommendation and monitor student growth in any foundational reading intervention program. This fast, accurate, and easy-to-administer assessment measures word reading fluency of older struggling to help identify:
• Which students are in need of the most intensive, foundational level of intervention (in a Response to Intervention model, typically Tier III)
• Which students would benefit from an intervention that is focused on developing vocabulary, background knowledge, and reading comprehension skills (typically Tier II)
For those students and their teachers, this computer-based assessment provides:
• An efficient and cost-effective universal screening tool.
• Accurate, validated measures of word decoding and sight-word reading fluency.
• Fast and scalable tests that can assess hundreds of students simultaneously in about 10 minutes.
• Alignment to the Response to Intervention Framework.
Scholastic Phonics Inventory helps ensure that the right students in the right reading intervention for the right amount of time.
Designed as a cost-effective and time efficient replacement to paper tests, eSkill offers an easy-to-use internet-based approach to language testing. Accurate, and with a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and appealing to the test taker, the application also allows for test content to be easily customized as needed, to include questions from any field of interest. Tests are accessible any time and from anywhere. Detailed scoring results with optional explanations help with learning and continued improvement of language skills.
The program’s flexibility makes it suitable for teachers, students in language schools, and also for graduates looking for certification of their English, French, or Spanish language skills. With hundreds of questions that cover difficulty levels from Beginner to Expert, and which can be combined to create both general and grammar-specific tests, it provides a comprehensive testing solution. It offers a clear assessment on all of the topics involved in language teaching and learning. Grouped into comprehensive subtopics, eSkill’s English Language questions cover every aspect of language use, from choice of articles and tenses to syntax, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling — all adapted for American, British, and Australian English.