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From: Ira Yankwitt (
Date: Fri Oct 07 2005 - 09:41:09 EDT

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As a former ABE teacher, this discussion about computer-based assessment
has raised a question for me: does anyone know of any research on the
cognitive or psycho-social differences between reading in a digital
environment vs. reading in a more traditional print format?

At 09:23 AM 10/7/05 -0400, Howard Dooley wrote:
>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
>> >
>> > 

Ira Yankwitt, Director
Professional Development / 
NYC Regional Adult Education Network 
Literacy Assistance Center
32 Broadway, 10th Floor
NY, NY 10004
(212) 803-3356

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