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From: David Rosen (
Date: Thu Jul 21 2005 - 17:41:01 EDT

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1169] Re: Q&A for Teachers
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Hi Nancy,

I think you'll find what Marie was referring to at: 

The Special Collection she referred to, I think, is the NIFL  
Assessment Special Collection at

i am not sure that this material is up there yet.


David J. Rosen

On Jul 21, 2005, at 5:09 PM, Nancy Hansen wrote:

> 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
> expecting.
> 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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