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Noncredit ESL Promotion Tests
These pages contain a description of the promotion tests utilized by the ESL Department for non-credit promotion testing in levels Beginning Low 2, Beginning High 4, and Intermediate Low 6.
The Non-Credit Curriculum Committee has decided that all instructors at Levels 2, 4, and 6 are required to give both the Listening and Reading promotion tests. Testing will occur in classes that meet for ten or more hours a week. If you have strong feelings about not utilizing standardized tests in your pedagogy, you should ask to teach levels other than 2, 4, and 6. Additionally, the committee has decided that, as a rule, students will be required to pass both the Reading and Listening tests in order to move to the next level. Of course, this directive does not prohibit teachers, under special circumstances, from promoting students who do not pass both tests. Indeed, there will be some cases in which test results do not match the performance observed by the classroom instructor. Some students might be under the weather on testing day or otherwise not able to function at their full capacity. If the test results do not match what the teacher knows to be the student's true ability, then the student should be promoted anyway and an explanation provided.
Because our program is open entry/exit, you will no doubt be getting new students up until the end of the semester. It is very difficult to perform exhaustive performance-based and other in-class assessment of new students as there may not be adequate time to do so. Students who are placed into your class after the thirteenth week of instruction should therefore not be given the promotion tests, but instead assigned to the same level for the following semester.
As with any standardized test, those outlined here are, at best, useful in providing additional vs. basic information about student ability. Assessment occurs constantly in the ESL classroom in a variety of ways:
At the beginning of the semester, teachers perform a needs assessment to determine what students need to learn. While The Non-Credit Curriculum Guide provides a clear idea of the language that students should have and need at the level being taught, it's always a good idea to conduct a needs assessment to confirm this information. A needs assessment will also provide the teacher with information about topics, contexts and interests that students perceive as needs, as well as insight into student learning styles. Needs assessment can be conducted through questionnaires, oral questions, pictures, etc.
While some may think that this is not a legitimate form of testing, classroom instructors are constantly assessing the progress of their students in informal ways. When the instructor moves from group to group checking on student progress in a pair or group work activity, assessment is taking place. Similarly, during whole group work, when the teacher elicits responses from individuals, or checks written work, assessment is occurring. What the teacher learns from daily informal assessment helps to shape the direction of the class.
In addition to informal assessment, teachers often give students unit or chapter tests to ensure that they have understood the material under study. Formal assessment takes many forms, including paper and pencil tests and performance-based assessment.
Paper and pencil tests include true-false, completion, cloze, short answer, matching, multiple choice and essay types. These tests may cover recall and comprehension in addition to assessing student ability to apply information across contexts, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information, and draw conclusions.
Performance-based testing also gives instructors valuable information. Such performance-based formats as role play, simulations, contact assignments, and real life situations can indicate whether students have acquired particular skills.
As can be seen, assessment occurs constantly in the ESL classroom. When instructors, at the end of the semester, need to make decisions regarding student promotion, the standardized tests provided by the Teachers Resource Center (TRC) should complement the information already garnered. These standardized tests should never be used in lieu of classroom assessment, but should offer one more bit of information to assist the instructor's decision-making process.
The following pages provide a description of the six promotion tests currently available from the TRC. For the Reading tests, the actual directions as printed in the test booklet are included. The Listening test descriptions include portions of the tape scripts that students will hear.
Click below for specific information about each test: