[Assessment 1325] Re: CASAS vs. BEST

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Karen Burger kburger at ciesc.k12.in.us
Tue May 20 10:28:45 EDT 2008

Here in Indiana we use CASAS for EL classes. The main reason is for
reporting purposes, however it is an excellent tool for directing
instruction as well. Yes, it does focus on reading and writing although
there is also a listening component as well. Listening is the hardest to
get a level gain (NRS guidelines). The CASAS Life and Work reading test is
very well put together. It includes reading selections, charts, work
schedules, paystubs, newspaper articles, want ads, nutritional information
labels, department store sale signs, maps, instruction manuals, recipes,
medicine bottle labels...all authentic materials that require the type of
reading needed in everyday life. All the questions are coded according the
CASAS competencies and can be correlated with Basic Skill Content Standards.
There are sample questions on the CASAS website, www.casas.org
<http://www.casas.org/> and descriptions of the various tests available.

As is true with any assessment tool, CASAS is just one measure that can give
us a snapshot of and Educational Functioning Level according to an approved
definition. The test can't do it all and a student might eventually test
out of CASAS and still need instruction. Nonetheless, the test items are
meaningful and useful for informing instruction. I made it a point to
devote a portion of my classroom instruction to the CASAS competencies. I
made posters and charts, used newspapers and had learners bring in forms,
signs, etc. that were similar to those found in the tests. Then I
formulated questions to "test" comprehension that the students could use as
individuals, in pairs or as a group. We used them to break up the class,
"walk-arounds" with a clipboard. Lots of fun, a great springboard for
further instruction or discussion and gave meaning to the pre-post testing
in that learners saw a connection between the test and the class

I can't comment of BEST. We don't use it.

Karen Burger
Professional Development Consultant
IDOE Adult Education Professional Development Project
6321 La Pas Trail
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Fax 317-328-7298
kburger at ciesc.k12.in.us


From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Peralta, Kay
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2008 8:01 PM
To: The Assessment Discussion List
Subject: [Assessment 1325] Re: CASAS vs. BEST

BEST is no longer available - but BEST Literacy took the place and it is
available. I offer the training for the State of Kentucky. Go to the CAL
website and find out more about this. It is updated pictures, etc. from the
BEST but is still the same.

Kay Peralta

Scott County Schools



From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov on behalf of Mary Jane Jerde
Sent: Fri 5/16/2008 7:47 PM
To: The Assessment Discussion List
Subject: [Assessment 1322] Re: CASAS vs. BEST

Hello All,

Since with BEST Plus the ESL students are scored on comprehension,
complexity (grammar), and communication (how easily their responses can be
understood), I think that either BEST or BEST Plus would make the leap to
another English speaking country fairly easily. Certainly much better than
most other test instruments like CASAS.

The questions are for adults on common topics, shopping, neighborhood
preferences, exercise, daily activities, etc. The occasional pictures are
fairly generic.

I think it would be worth a good look.

It is too bad that the paper BEST is not available. It was great for quick
placement in ongoing programs with rolling enrollment.

Mary Jane Jerde
Howard Community College

Bryan Woerner <bwoerner at cal.org> wrote:

Hello Maria,

BEST Plus and BEST Literacy were developed for use with adult English
language learners who need to use English to function in day-to-day life in
an English-speaking context in the 50 United States. This means that all
test items and graphics were developed and included in the tests based on
cultural assumptions about life in the US. Therefore, the results from
either test really wouldn't be valid. They also wouldn't suitable test for
non-American English speakers who first language is English, if I understand
you correctly. The tests were designed for non-native speakers. If, however,
a non-native speaker who learned British English came to the US and took ESL
classes, then he or she could be tested with BEST Plus or BEST Literacy.

What was known as the "BEST test" or the Basic English Skills Test, is no
longer published. It was developed in the 1980's and hadn't been updated
since then. The oral interview was replaced by BEST Plus in 2003 and the
literacy skills section was updated and became BEST Literacy in 2006. Since
the BEST test was around for so long, the nomenclature sometimes get mixed
up. But, like its descendents, it too was only valid within the US for the
same reasons.

And I would suggest to Anthony that he contact the TESOL organization. They
published a book called ESOL Tests and Testing which is a compilation of
many different ESL, EFL and ESP assessments.

<http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/sec_document.asp?CID=856&DID=3460> &DID=3460



From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Marie Cora
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2008 5:11 PM
To: 'The Assessment Discussion List'
Subject: [Assessment 1318] Re: CASAS vs. BEST

Hi Bryan and Anthony,

A question to you Bryan - is the BEST then available for folks outside the
US? Also, do you believe it's suitable for English speakers from countries
other than the US?


Marie Cora

Assessment Discussion List Moderator

-----Original Message-----
From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Bryan Woerner
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2008 2:35 PM
To: The Assessment Discussion List
Subject: [Assessment 1317] Re: CASAS vs. BEST

Hello Anthony,

BEST Plus was designed for use with adult English language learners in the
United States.


Adult ESL Assessments

Center for Applied Linguistics


From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Anthony Berry
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2008 8:34 AM
To: The Assessment Discussion List
Subject: [Assessment 1315] Re: CASAS vs. BEST

Could someone please tell me how I an have sight of BEST. I have been
looking for an adaptive, normative, diagnostic test for ages and this seems
as though it might fit the bill.

What flavour of English is it? Yes, you can see that I am of the Queen's
English brigade!

Thanks for any help - btw this would be for research purposes not productive

Anthony Berry


Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 04:34:28 -0700
From: mjjerdems at yahoo.com
To: assessment at nifl.gov
Subject: [Assessment 1314] Re: CASAS vs. BEST

The BEST is great for assessing the learner's production of English. Its
additional pluses are that there are not test forms that learners can learn
it identify and recall easily; the test questions become harder or easier
depending on how the learner's responses are scored, which mitigates
differences between assessors; and it would be better able to identify small
progress than CASAS forms.

The one major downside is that it takes time and more time as the learners
progress. A large program simply cannot afford to put the hours into testing
that BEST Plus requires.

I've used both CASAS and BEST Plus in smaller programs because one
instrument cannot give a full picture on a learner (Assessment 101), and it
maximizes the chance to show improvement at post-test.

Good luck,

Mary Jane Jerde
Howard Community College

"Rodrick Beiler, Ingrid" <Ingrid.RodrickBeiler at montgomerycountymd.gov>

Hi everyone

I serve as the coordinator for an adult ESOL program in Montgomery County,
MD. We offer classes mostly at the beginner level, with some classes at
literacy and intermediate levels as well. I am fairly new to this field and
am trying to determine the comparative usefulness of CASAS and BEST for
assessment of our program. Can anyone comment on how/why their organizations
might have chosen one over the other?

In case it is helpful for understanding my organization's needs, here is
some more background information:
- We serve about 275-300 learners per semester.
- Many of our learners have a very low educational level.
- Pre- and post-tests are administered by our instructors during the first
and last classes of the semester.
- Placement tests are administered by coordinators at each of our sites in
one-on-one interviews.
- We provide 36-48 instructional hours per semester. (I wonder if this
precludes our using the BEST.)
- Most of our funding comes from two sources (government and a private
- The cost of standardized assessments is an important factor to us.

Your advice is much appreciated.

Ingrid Rodrick Beiler

Ingrid Rodrick Beiler
ESOL Coordinator
Linkages to Learning
51 Monroe Street, Suite 1700
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (240) 777-1110
Fax: (240) 777-1111
ingrid.rodrickbeiler at montgomerycountymd.gov

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