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From: Nancy Hansen (
Date: Thu Jul 21 2005 - 17:09:53 EDT

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1168] Re: Q&A for Teachers
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Hi everybody,

I think Marie is on vacation this week, but I wanted
to see if anyone used the website she listed below in
her email to read about performance levels.  I didn't
locate a "special collection" tab so perhaps that's
why there didn't appear to be the data I was

Marie also wrote:
<< I was hoping to hear even more - perhaps from
classroom teachers who may have followed the
discussion.  I'm wondering how all of that broad and
intense subject matter affects you and your students? 
We see how it affects things like policy and funding,
but what about for the practitioner in the classroom? 
How do you work with performance levels within your
classroom? >>

I would ALSO really like to hear from the teachers in
the junior and senior high school levels.  I'm
interested in hearing what they are finding as far as
"work(ing) with performance levels within your
classrooms" says Marie.  Anyone out there?  Or are you
all "on vacation" also?

I am an adult literacy provider who serves the very
lowest of the literacy level 1 and 2 learners.  We
also have the higher end of the English Speakers of
Other Languages. I am interested in whether anything
has changed in the high schools around the country
related to determining skill levels.  Does it mean
adapting study and lessonwork according to their
learning styles in order to meet the needs of the
lowest level learners?

Your replies will be appreciated.

Nancy Hansen

--- Marie Cora <> wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> I wanted to let you all know that I will be on
> vacation next week.  I
> have completed the summary of the discussion on
> performance levels for
> adults, and it is up at the ALEWiki
> and it should be
> up at the Special Collection On-line Discussion page
> soon.  
> I think that we had a rich discussion of that
> material, and I was hoping
> to hear even more - perhaps from classroom teachers
> who may have
> followed the discussion.  I'm wondering how all of
> that broad and
> intense subject matter affects you and your
> students?  We see how it
> affects things like policy and funding, but what
> about for the
> practitioner in the classroom?  How do you work with
> performance levels
> within your classroom?  What do you need to know and
> understand from
> this discussion that will help you in your practice?
>  What are the
> pieces of assessment that you need to know and
> understand in order to be
> a better teacher?
> Below I have posted 3 question/answer excerpts from
> the discussion that
> focus on NRS and NAAL levels and how they might
> affect the teacher in
> the classroom.  If you are so-inclined, I would
> really enjoy hearing
> some of your comments on both my questions above,
> and on the excerpts
> below.
> Thanks!
> marie cora
> Moderator, NIFL Assessment Discussion List, and
> Coordinator/Developer LINCS Assessment Special
> Collection at
> Q&A #1:
> A primary concern of many direct providers of
> literacy services like me
> is the accountability standards of the National
> Reporting System in
> relation to the lowest level learners. Do you know
> if the new data will
> be used or could be used to establish two very low
> levels in the NRS
> system? Many providers feel it is not reasonable to
> expect learners who
> score that low to achieve the equivalent of two
> grade levels per year in
> order to meet NRS standards. For too many, progress
> is much slower. I
> believe the current system creates a disincentive to
> serve the lowest
> level learners because the accountability pressures
> are related to
> funding. In short, unless something changes, many
> feel that serving "too
> many" very low level learners could jeopardize an
> entire program. 
> Response:  In identifying these levels, we were
> conscious of the fact
> that one of the chief audiences for NAAL results is
> adult education
> programs, which are guided legislatively by the
> Workforce Investment Act
> of 1998. Title II of this act mandates an
> accountability system for
> adult education programs, known as the [NRS] that
> specifies a set of
> education functioning levels used in tracking the
> progress of enrollees.
> Feedback from stakeholders emphasized the usefulness
> of creating levels
> for NAAL aligned with the NRS levels. Although it
> was not possible to
> establish a clear one-to-one correspondence between
> NAAL performance
> levels and the NRS levels, there appears to be a
> rough parallel between
> Non-literate in English and the NRS beginning
> literacy level; between
> below basic and the NRS beginning basic and low
> intermediate levels; and
> between basic and the NRS high intermediate level. 
> We tried to develop
> performance levels that would be useful to a variety
> of audiences, but
> particularly to adult educators who most address the
> requirements of
> NRS. Given the scope of what is assessed by
> NALS/NAAL (e.g., the test
> frameworks, specifications), it wasn't possible to
> completely align
> NALS/NAAL levels with NRS levels, but we did the
> best that we could.
> And, we provided the mapping from one to the other
> on page ES-6 to
> assist with this.
> Q&A #2:
> Has there been any correlations of the "standard"
> assessments (TABE,
> CASAS,) and the GED Tests, including the English
> Proficiency test (Test
> 6) to the 2003 NAALS, or for that matter to the NRS?
> Response:  Our report discusses the performance
> levels we recommend be
> used for reporting the 2003 NAAL results, and for
> purposes of
> exemplification, we applied the levels and cut
> scores to the 1992 NALS
> results. Our report doesn't include any actual date
> from the 2003 NAAL
> because the Department of Education has not yet
> publicly released them.
> The Department was awaiting our recommendations for
> performance levels
> and cut scores before reporting the 2003 results,
> and they are now in
> the process of preparing their reports. Once the
> 2003 NAAL results are
> released, I would expect that analyses that had been
> conducted with the
> 1992 NALS (such as the GED study) would be
> replicated with the new
> results. 
> Q&A #3:
> Do we have any evidence that the NALS data have been
> used by any of
> these audiences to improve adult literacy education
> services? My
> impression is that practitioners do not (perhaps
> cannot) use the NALS
> data to improve instruction. And my experience with
> policy makers is
> that the NALS findings -- the large numbers of
> Americans in need of
> literacy skills -- has been dismissed as an
> exaggeration, or has
> resulted in a throwing up of hands of hopelessness.
> What exactly, do you
> think, is the added value of these studies? For
> example, do you think
> the NAAL will be more useful to practitioners and
> policy makers than the
> NALS?  If so, why? 
> Response:  I can only address this from the aspect
> of the performance
> levels, since this is what the committee's report is
> about. The
> committee intentionally designed the performance
> levels to address
> specific policy and programmatic questions, and the
> report is pretty
> explicit about this (see bullets on ES-4 and
> supporting discussion on
> pgs. 4-11 and 4-12). I think that the committee
> hopes (and anticipates)
> that reporting NAAL results using these performance
> levels will enhance
> their usefulness to those making policy and
> programmatic decisions. I'm
> not sure that the levels could be used by adult
> educators to improve
> instruction per se, but would be interested in
> hearing your (and other
> listserv participants') ideas about this. 

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