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From: Marie Cora (
Date: Wed Sep 14 2005 - 11:39:25 EDT

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1229] CASAS-based assessment efforts in CT
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Dear List Members,

The following post is from Ajit Gopalakrishnan, in response to Sondra
Stein's update on EFF assessments.  My apologies to Ajit and readers
that this post has taken so long to get up here - email glitches are
rearing their heads.  

If you are experiencing difficulties posting, please refer to
# [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1219] Plain Text posting Marie Cora (Tue Aug 16 2005
- 11:32:28 EDT) that can be found in the archives at  That contains some
suggestions for trumping a glitch.  If that does not work, please don't
hesitate to email me directly.


After reviewing this update on EFF, I thought states might be interested
in learning about some activities that CT has been working on, in
partnership with CASAS. Many states are involved in these discussions
through CASAS and it would be great to have more states involved. 

For those who may not know, CASAS is a comprehensive system for adult
student assessment that links curriculum, assessment and instruction.
CASAS is also a vehicle for collaboration among states. Member states
participate in prioritizing CASAS' activities, competency-validation,
item writing, field-testing, standard setting, and research and
development. Over the past two decades, these experiences have served as
tremendous opportunities for practitioners to learn more about
assessment development and assessment research.

There are three particular projects I would like to mention here. 

Workforce Skills Certification:
There is some interest in CT to pilot a skill-based certification system
for youth in WIA programs. The CASAS Workforce Skills Certification
System is one of the options we are considering. There are many aspects
of this system that people seem to find attractive including the fact
that it was driven during its creation by industry/employer standards
and expectations of what workers need to know. It offers certification
instruments in not just reading and math but includes tools to certify
problem solving, critical thinking, and applied performance. There is
also an elaborate portfolio assessment piece that can be used to certify
customer service, team skills and such. In addition to these skill
areas, we are also considering certification in technology literacy.

Workplace Speaking Assessment:
We will be piloting this CASAS performance-based assessment this fiscal
year after having been involved closely in its development. It measures
the speaking skills of ESL learners through oral interactions and is
based in a workplace context. It targets ESL learners at the high
beginning to advanced levels who are currently employed or have had work
experience. We are looking to use this in our increasing workplace
education efforts.

CASAS Functional Writing Assessment:
We have been implementing this writing assessment in adult education to
inform instruction and report for accountability purposes for some years
now. It utilizes picture prompts in varied contexts and offers an
analytic rubric that informs instruction. 

Results from CASAS assessments are reported in scale scores that define
the basic skills along a fixed continuum of difficulty. For a variety of
reasons, I agree with many who wrote in an earlier discussion about the
inappropriateness of using grade level equivalent scores with adult
learners. With minimal familiarity, scale scores can be more effective,
accurate, and relevant.



Ajit Gopalakrishnan
Education Consultant
Connecticut Department of Education
25 Industrial Park Road
Middletown, CT 06457
Tel: (860) 807-2125
Fax: (860) 807-2062

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Marie Cora
Sent: Friday, August 05, 2005 2:26 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1211] EFF-based assessment efforts

Hi everyone,

The following post is from Sondra Stein.  

Dear all --
Before I run off for a much needed summer vacation I wanted to respond
briefly to Marie's query about EFF -based assessments.  
There are two EFF-based assessment efforts going on.  One that parallels
the work that Bob initiated in Massachusetts in that it is focused on
the EFF standards that are included in the NRS: Reading, Writing, Math. 
This is a collaborative effort between ETS and a number of states that
are using EFF standards and is in the early stages of development.  In
February 2004 when we completed the assessment framework for EFF
standards we hosted a meeting for assessment developers to introduce
them to the work we had done and to invite them to build assessments
that were aligned with EFF standards.  We told them that there was
dissatisfaction in the field with the assessments that were available
and that the states that were basing their system improvement efforts on
EFF Standards would be a ready market for assessments aligned with the
standards.  Representatives of about 6 states were at the meeting, as
well as representatives of five or six assessment publishers.  A number
of publishers at the meeting expressed an interest in cross walking
their assessments with the EFF performance levels.  ETS was the only
firm interested in working with states to develop new assessments
aligned with the standards.  At COABE that year NIFL hosted a special
meeting at which Irwin Kirsch talked to interested states about an
approach to collaborative assessment development that ETS was beginning
to use -- a process that has resulted in the new computer literacy
assessment that ETS released this year.  Irwin proposed a similar
process with state adult basic literacy and education leaders which is
now underway.  I am not integrally involved with this group right now,
but I believe they have met two or three times and are coming to
agreement on the blueprint for tests that ETS will develop.  I am very
excited about this effort -- both the process, which continues EFF's
commitment to collaborative development with the field, and the products
which promise to be state-of-the-art assessments, aligned with what
people using EFF standards really teach in their classrooms, so enabling
them to measure results that matter.  You can find out more about this
from Regie Stites, Irwin Kirsch at ETS, or one or more of the states
that are involved -- I know they include District of Columbia, New
Jersey, Ohio, and Washington and several other states.  I'm not sure
which ones since I haven't been involved for the past year.
Instead I have been focused on working with a small group of state and
national partners (mostly workforce focused) on the development of a
Work Readiness Credential based on Equipped for the Future Standards and
business consensus of what entry-level workers need to know and be able
to do.  This effort began in 2002 when EFF National Policy Advisors --
including state directors of adult education and other leaders -- asked
us to consider development of such a credential to address the
difficulty employers were having finding applicants who were work
ready.  You may remember the NAM Skills Gap report of 2001 in which 69%
of employers said that applicants lacked basic employability skills. Our
advisors thought EFF would be a great foundation for such a credential
because we had developed rigorous research based standards for
interpersonal, problem-solving, and learning skills --as well as the
three R's. State Directors if Adult Ed felt that an assessment that was
aligned with entry-level skills would meet their need for a "mid-level"
pre-GED credential.  
We began the work with initial funding from NIFL in 2003, and
subsequently identified 6 partners that have invested in the costs of
developing the credential.  The project is now based at the Center for
Workforce Preparation at the US Chamber of Commerce. Visit our website
at or
The credential development process has reiterated the EFF development
process.  We spent the first year conducting surveys and focus groups
with front line supervisors, entry-level workers, and other stakeholders
in the workforce system, to build consensus on what you can think of EFF
terms as an entry-level worker role map.  It's a profile of the critical
tasks and behaviors that entry-level workers need to be able to perform
in order to be successful -- across industry sectors -- and of the most
important skills for performing those tasks.  These include nine of the
16 EFF Standards: Speak so others Can Understand, Listen Actively,
Cooperate with Others, Resolve Conflict and Negotiate, Solve Problems
and Make Decisions, Take Responsibility for Learning, Observe
Critically, and Read with Understanding and Use Math.  This profile is
proposed as a business-driven, standards-based, research-and-consensus
built national Work Readiness Standard. (Another EFF mouthful!) It
identifies what job seekers need to know and be able to do (how well
they need to be able to use what skills) in order to qualify for
entry-level jobs that lead to better jobs. 
For the past year and a half our assessment development team -- led by
SRI International and HumRRO  -- has worked with state partners to
develop and implement an assessment plan for assessing this new work
readiness standard. After reviewing existing assessments, we set out on
a path to develop new ones that were designed to assess the profile.
There are four modules in the assessment package which will be
field-tested this fall. One that focuses on Reading, one on Math, one on
Speaking and Listening, and one on the 5 interpersonal, problem solving,
and learning skills in the profile. Three of the assessments have been
developed by HumRRO and SRI, using subject matter experts from across
industry clusters (rather than teachers) to help develop assessment
items.  The fourth assessment is being developed by the Center for
Applied Linguistics, using a new COPI approach to assessing oral
communication skills by computer.  All four assessments were piloted
this spring and will be included in the field test this fall.  The field
test will be conducted in the six states mentioned above that are
partners in the development of the credential.  The field test will
focus on issues of fairness and validity.
What continues to be exciting to me about this credential is that it
enables us to fulfill the vision of EFF -- an assessment that focuses on
most of the skills that adults really do need to be successful in their
roles as parents, citizens and workers.  

The credential will be available for broad use next spring.  If you are
interested in finding out more, check out the websites or contact me at
Sondra Stein
Project Manager, EFF Work Readiness Credential

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