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From: Howard Dooley (
Date: Fri Oct 07 2005 - 09:25:04 EDT

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1266] RE: FW: [NIFL-TECHNOLOGY:3792] Re: Computer assessment and adult learners
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Interesting discussion and comments.  My program also uses the CASAS to
place our ESL students into classes and to assess progress (for funders and
the NRS), and we find that it is both useful and practical, particularly in
our large-scale registrations.  We use other measures and assessments to
gather further data that is of value to the learners, instructors and to
make program improvements.  In some classes we use the listening, some the
reading; we have begun to pilot the workplace speaking at worksite literacy
classes which are ESOL, and instructors are reviewing the CASAS functional
writing assessment and comparing it to the REEP to see what would fit best
with our program structure and learners.

I recently spoke with Richard Ackermann, the CASAS staff point person for
CASAS' computerized assessments.  CASAS provides several options for
assessing learners, though the multiple-choice tests are the most familiar.
Two of the CASAS assessment series, Life and Work & Employability
Competency, are available as CBT -- which means the test booklet has been
put onto the computer, no change in items.  The advantage is immediate
scoring and ease of download into an MIS.

CASAS is currently working on computer adaptive testing.  Richard provides
the following description for us: CASAS is currently pilot testing computer
adaptive testing (CAT) with a large workforce development program. The
workforce program is using CAT in reading, math and listening. A single
administration of a reading, math or listening CAT is used to both place the
student in the appropriate level of training and serve as the benchmark
pre-test for measuring gain. A principal advantage of CAT is that one test
administration serves as both appraisal and pre-test. A further economy is
that the examinee is administered fewer test items in a CAT than with paper
and pencil. (Because the assessment "adapts" to each individual learner.)
CASAS is planning a widespread release of reading CAT, math CAT and
listening CAT in early summer 2006.

With advances in technology, there will soon be a wide variety of assessment
options available to us.  As always, we should view these advances as
expanding our opportunities to match the best method of assessment to each
of our learners.  Some of the comments earlier in the discussion seemed to
fear that programs would "force" learners to take CBT or CAT, when that
choice would clearly be inappropriate; just as it would be inappropriate to
give a learner a pencil-and-paper test if the learner had no experience with
reading, multiple-choice testing, bubble sheets, or pencils.  I hope neither
happens; and if we suspect or see it happens, that we can find a way to stop
it, by mentoring or educating practitioners.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Of Gustav Kocsis
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 9:19 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1265] RE: FW: [NIFL-TECHNOLOGY:3792] Re: Computer
assessment and adult learners

We would like to see a good and easy to score paper and pencil test for our
ESL students. We are now using the CASAS and we are finding that the CASAS
tests are not useful to use to asses an ESL student's language ability. We
have to register too many students at one time to be able to use computer
testing such as the BEST PLUS. Many of our students are not very skilled
with computers and a computer based test might not truly reflect the
student's English skills. I know of many other large programs that would be
interested in a valid and reliable paper and pencil ESL test for NRS
reporting. Is there anything else out there that is better than CASAS?

Gustav A. Kocsis
English as a Second Language Coordinator
Adult Basic Education
Santa Fe Community College
6401 Richards Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87508

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Of Marie Cora
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 1:59 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:1264] FW: [NIFL-TECHNOLOGY:3792] Re: Computer
assessment and adult learners

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 1:16 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-TECHNOLOGY:3792] Re: Computer assessment and adult learners

If the purpose is also to assess their computer skills, I could see
assessing via a computer.  However, if a student has virtually no computer
experience, as many of the older immigrants who are in our program do not
have, I can not imagine adding this layer on to what is really trying to be

Ruthann Duffy
ESL Tech Coordinator
Essential Skills Program
Shoreline Community College
16101 Greenwood Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98133

Telephone: 206-533-6624

> Hi everyone,
> I wanted to prod you all to add your thoughts to Nancy's questions
> the other day regarding testing via computers in ABE/ESOL.  What are 
> your thoughts, and what have been your experiences on this?
> I have done a little bit of work using the BEST Plus with adult
> - but in that case, it is the teacher/test administrator who actually
> using the computer and asking questions of the test-taker.  As an
> the great thing about this type of computer testing is that the
> program automatically stops you when the student has reached as far as 
> they can go, and it also jumps over questions that it realizes the 
> student will have no problem answering.  Thus, you avoid the
> and sometimes painful process of forcing students to answer way too
> questions, for example.
> But!  This is not the situation Nancy is describing here - so do folks 
> have thoughts on adult students personally using a computer for 
> assessment purposes?  I am also sending this reply to the 
> NIFL-Technology List to see if folks over there have something to 
> contribute to this discussion.
> Thanks!
> marie
> marie cora
> Moderator, NIFL Assessment Discussion List, and
> Coordinator/Developer 
> LINCS Assessment Special Collection at  
> On Wed 10/5/2005, Nancy Hansen wrote:
> I also have a question to those who test using
> > computers:  Do you find the skills of the learner
> > who
> > has had next to NO exposure to computers and LITTLE literacy skills 
> > are accurately being portrayed via this style testing?
> > 
> > I have men and women in our adult literacy program
> > who
> > had never sat down at a computer - much less used a
> > mouse before.  I cannot imagine that their extensive
> > life skills would be evaluated appropriately when
> > they
> > hit and miss at the computer - sometimes even
> > striking
> > incorrect keys.
> > 
> > Nancy Hansen
> > Sioux Falls Area Literacy Council
> >
> > 

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