NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1200] RE: high-stakes te

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From: Pauline Mcnaughton (pmcnaughton@language.ca)
Date: Tue Aug 02 2005 - 15:39:06 EDT


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From: "Pauline Mcnaughton" <pmcnaughton@language.ca>
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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1200] RE: high-stakes testing, state/federal
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I think the key justification for and importance of standardization is
fairness.  Being able to provide the means for comparability is an important
outcome, but in my mind it is not the primary objective.  I have copied some
exertps from various reports and consultations leading up the development of
the Canadian Language Benchmarks that stresses the importance of fairness
above all.

The lack of consistent definitions and criteria across Canada was one of the
issues long raised by learners and specifically identified as a concern by
them at TESL Canada’s Learners’ Conference in Vancouver (March 1992).  These
learners were concerned that differences in language assessment criteria and
in the decisions that followed from those assessments meant that some
immigrants were being denied opportunities available to others - not as a
result of design or plan, but through an absence of design and plan.
The National LINC Benchmarks Project:  Report on the Consultations, 1993

The CLB were initially developed by the federal government with the support
of provincial governments to assist immigrants to participate more fully in
Canadian society.  Immigrant advocates, both within and outside the ESL/FSL
fields, argued persuasively that Canada needed a common set of descriptors
of English and French language ability that could be applied in a number of
contexts – language instruction, local community, the workplace and the
academic community.

Before the Canadian Language Benchmarks were introduced, the lack of a
common, easy to understand, standard, posed a significant barrier for
newcomers. Immigrant advocates, both within and outside the ESL/FSL fields,
argued persuasively that Canada needed a common set of descriptors of
English and French language ability that could be applied in a number of
contexts – language instruction, local community, the workplace and the
academic community.
Educational institutions often supplied descriptions of a client’s language
proficiency that were not easy to interpret for employment or placement
counselors.

The federal government initiated a national consultation to identify the
need for a national language standard, - to find out what was being used
across the country and - to make recommendations. The report concluded that,
“The criteria that are available to measure student progress are seldom
cross-referenced to the ‘real world’.” And that the common use of such
global terms as “beginner”, “intermediate” or “advanced” to summarize a
learner’s language proficiency in relation to the real world were deemed
sorely inadequate.  Descriptors were needed that were able to answer the
types of questions asked by funding agencies, counselors and employers such
as “How much English does this person have?  Is this person’s English good
enough to …” “Could this person now”.  (Source page 10, The National LINC
Benchmarks Project: Report on the Consultations)

-----Original Message-----
From: nifl-assessment@nifl.gov [mailto:nifl-assessment@nifl.gov]On
Behalf Of AWilder106@aol.com
Sent: August 2, 2005 2:29 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1199] RE: high-stakes testing, state/federal


I may be mangling people's definitions, but here goes.

Standardized means comparable across cases, and outsiders want to know
this--how one group performs relative to another group.  Outsiders also want
to know that teachers  are taking their job seriously and know  what they
are doing.

It seems unfair NOT  to use a standardized test--the same measure for
everyone.

Back to Nancy's dilemma--for a CBO following  ProLiteracy,  judging what a
person is doing, how they are doing--there are  regular
check-ups--standardized for ProLiteracy students.

As to the individual  quirks that make up a student's encounters with
teaching and literacy-- for the outsider, those belong in the domain of the
relationship between teacher and student. They might be useful indicators of
ways to enhance program strengths.

Andrea (an outsider for purposes of this email)



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