Review of Tests for ABE and ESL Programsa

There are hundreds of standardized tests. Yet only a very few have been developed for use by ABE or ESL program providers.

This appendix provides reviews of eight standardized tests that are widely used by ABE and ESL programs. These tests were selected for review to include the most widely used group-administered, norm-referenced tests of adult basic skills ( ABLE, TABE); the group-administered, competency-based tests of the CASAS; tests for ESL assessment (ESLOA; BEST; CASAS/ESL); tests that are used by volunteer adult literacy groups for individual testing in tutor-tutee arrangements (ESLOA; READ); and the GED Official Practice Test for indicating readiness for taking the GED high school equivalency examinations.

The information reported here for each test includes: the full name, commonly used acronym, and dates of publication; purpose; source; costs; description of skills assessed, reliability, validity, and types of scores that can be reported; and general comments. Notable strengths and weaknesses are high-lighted.

Reliability and validity coefficients are referred to as "low" when they are between 0 and .49, as "moderate" when between .50 and .79, and as "high" when equal to or greater than .80. When tests have different "levels" that means there are different tests for learners of different skill levels. The proper use of the appropriate level of test provides a more reliable estimate of learners' skills.

Final decisions about the use of any test should be made only after examining it carefully, reading its manual(s), and trying it with some students similar to those with whom it will be used.

Unless otherwise mentioned, the tests are suited to group administration, and the student test booklets are re-usable. The costs reported are for small orders and are only approximate, prices change over time; institutional or bulk order discounts are available from some publishers. Allow plenty of time when ordering materials. Order fulfillment normally takes 2-5 weeks unless special shipment and payment is specified. Errors in fulfilling orders are not uncommon.

aThis appendix was written by Dr. Gregg Jackson in 1995, therefore the information is current as of that time. The reviews of tests are abstracts from more extensive reviews of 64 standardized tests and assessment instruments in a report prepared by Jackson for the Association for Community Based Education (ACBE) 1806 Vernon Street N.W., Washington, DC 20009, (202) 462-6333.

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