Commercially Produced Assessment Tool Education Essay

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Many tools have been developed by organizations in business as well as in schools in order to assist educators achieve assessment objectives. Assessment of learning of the student can be carried on using a variety of methods and instruments that are available. It is believed by most experts that the most effective way for measuring the learning of the students is by combining assessment approaches. Wide range of assessment approaches have been tested and used in a variety of academic programs to determine whether the prescribed educational goals were being attained by the students.

The paper evaluates the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) as a basic assessment tool which has been commercially produced for the basic education of the adults. In the basic education of the adults, the available commercial instruments such as TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) and the ABLE (Adult Basic Learning Examination) predominate as tools of assessment because they have scoring reliability and construct validity, are easy to be administered to groups, the training required is minimal on the part of the teacher, and are stipulated by funding sources. The most commonly used ESL tests in programs of adult education are BEST (Basic English Skills Test) and the CASAS ESL Appraisal. The BEST was originally developed by the CAL (Centre for Applied Linguistics) in 1982 and was used to test the Southeast Asian newly arrived refugees, to assess the English literacy skills i.e. writing and reading, and speaking and listening skills. The test measures literacy and language skills at the lowest levels i.e. speaking is not necessary for some of the items as learners use pointing in response to pictures. The test also requires training on the testers' part. Also, the oral segment must be individually administered as it is lengthy (CTB/McGraw-HILL, 2002).

TABE (TEST OF ADULT BASIC EDUCATION)

TABE is designed to assess language, mathematics, reading, and spelling skills. TABE also includes a Spanish version and independent tests which assess the basic skills in contexts that are work related. It is available in pencil and paper, and formats that are computer based (CTB/McGraw-Hill, 2004).

Uses of TABE

TABE can be used both as a post test and a pretest. The 7-8 TABE were designed to serve as a post and pre test for students of the same group. Different TABE forms are generally administered by educators at the same level during post and pre-testing. However, if a student who had pretested near the range top has made remarkable progress in class, or has retaken the locator and scores a level higher, one may choose to use the next TABE higher level as a post test. This multi level testing type will yield results that are valid since all TABE levels are on the same scale.

TABE can be used for entrance screening or decision making. In making decisions of academic programs, TABE is an effective tool to use. However, it is not recommend using TABE as a sole measure for such decisions. It is recommended by CTB to use assessment multiple measures for decisions that are high stake like acceptance or hiring into a training program. TABE also works sufficiently as a tool for screening when used together with the gained information from sources such as transcripts, references and interviews.

Obtaining diagnostic information from survey of TABE. The results of the survey indicate the mastered learning objectives of the student and the ones that need more work. However, the obtained diagnostic information is not fully reliable like the one from the complete battery which has more items (CTB/McGraw-HILL, 2002).

TABE educational levels:

Forms 7-8

Level

Grade

L

0.0-1.9

E

1.6-3.9

M

3.6-6.9

D

6.6-8.9

A

8.6-12.9

Forms 5-6

Level

Grade

E

2.6-4.9

M

4.6-6.9

D

6.6-8.9

A

8.6-12.9

The TABE levels above represent a range of difficulties in content found at the indicated grades in educational programs. The students being examined may have a score which is above or below a given level. This depends on how they have mastered the skills which have been covered in that level (CTB/McGraw-HILL, 2002).

TABE subject areas.

The content areas measured by TABE 7-8 are: reading, language, computation in mathematics, applied mathematics, and spelling which is optional. There are sub-skills and subordinate objectives in each of the content areas. A total score of mathematics is yield when applied mathematics and computation in mathematics are combined. The content areas measured by TABE 5-6 are: vocabulary reading, comprehension reading, language mechanics, computation in mathematics, applications and concepts of mathematics, expression of language, and spelling which is optional. There are sub-skills and subordinate objectives in each of the content areas. A total score of reading is yield when vocabulary reading and reading comprehension are combined. When computation in mathematics and applications and concepts in mathematics are combined a total score in mathematics is yield. When expression in language and language mechanics are combined a total score in language is yield (CTB/McGraw-Hill, 2004).

TABE Characteristics

TABE has five levels. The limited literacy level is normally for those students whose English is not their primary language and has an understanding limit to written English. Other levels are E (Easy), M (Medium), D (Difficult) and A (Advanced). The GED test is predicted by how a student performs on the D and A levels. The TABE test initial part is to give a locator test that helps in determining the TABE level to be given to a student. There are five subsections in a locator which each takes five and twelve minutes each. The score of the student on the locator determines the level at which each subject will be given. There is a possibility for more than one administration of level test to one student. Different level tests may be taken by a student for most of the subtests depending on the student's ability. The two tests of math are required to be administered on the same level, while the three tests that are optional i.e. language mechanics, spelling and vocabulary should be on the same level as the test of language. However, the language tests, math and reading can all be on different levels. When the locator has been completed, the student starts to test using the different subtests. These subtests include: comprehension reading, application of math, language, and math comprehension. 9-10 which is the newest TABE form has optional tests for vocabulary, spelling and language mechanics (Higgs, 2007).

TABE tests validity and reliability

Validity of a test refers to how well a certain test measures that which has been designed to measure. Reliability refers to how consistent the test results are. When a test has been administered repeatedly and in conditions that are similar i.e. standardized conditions, a reliable test should produce similar scores. A TABE survey is able to achieve a reliable estimate of the overall achievement of an individual. The Complete Battery of the TABE is recommended by CTB to be used when the sub-tests accurate scores of an individual are required or when mastering of specific objectives of an individual is necessary to demonstrate. Biasness in TABE has been reduced. A test is said to be biased when it systematically gives different measures for different cultural, gender groups, regional and ethnic groups. ABE had been produced under similar rigorous guidelines for bias reduction applied to all tests by CTB. The guidelines involve an in house staff extensive review as well as a review by outside gender and ethnic bias reviewers. Also statistical procedures are used by CTB in order to identify those items that have a different function for different groups. The statistical data and the comments for both reviewers are used in the process of selecting items for elimination of the test items that are biased (CTB/McGraw-Hill, 2004).

TABE scoring procedure

There should be a reconciliation of accommodation and standardization in order to support inclusive testing practice. Standardization is a characteristic which is fundamentally important for educational assessments which are designed to support participants' comparisons. In educational assessment, standardization refers to compliance with conditions of uniform administration. CTB has adopted and advocates a standardization approach that is able to recognize accommodation and inclusiveness as nonconflicting equally important characteristics of the practice of modern assessment. The approach has four main principles which are: first, standardized tests publishers should define clearly the default conditions for the tests administration and which should allow for meaningful and broad participation by the students vast majority. Needlessly restrictive default conditions like very small prints and short time limits are discouraged by this principle. It also recognizes the default conditions definition importance rather than being left to the users' discretion. The validity or the invalidity of the assessment results can be influenced by lack of accommodation provision when it is appropriate to be provided or when it is overly provided for. Second, it will be necessary for conditions of publisher default changes for some students to participate meaningfully in the assessment. Decisions regarding such accommodations usage should be made by individuals who are appropriately trained and who are familiar with the disabilities of the students or the English language proficiency level. The decisions should be written for documentation such as IEPs (individualized education programs), accommodation plans which are specific to ELL/LEP students or 504 plans. It is not appropriate generally under this principle for policy makers or test publishers to decree some of the accommodations as valid or invalid universally. However, it is of significant that in every appropriate way, the process of making decision and the accommodations delivery are each conducted using the procedures for standardization. For example, the decision procedure for oral accommodation provision along with the oral accommodation delivery i.e. cassette tape, scripted communications and video tape should be of standard across administrations. Judgment may be exercised by the policy makers regarding the scores' treatment that arise from various accommodations. Thirdly, to define as standard the assessments inclusive administration to all the students who may participate meaningfully under either IEP specified, default or ELL conditions which are appropriate. As a result, those students with accommodation documented needs will participate in those assessments which are under the accommodated conditions they go through in daily instruction. Fourth, the inclusive administrations results interpretation requires a careful consideration of the measured targeted skills, the frequency and nature of the used accommodations, and the accommodations' possible impact on reported performance (CTB/McGraw-Hill, 2004).

Test results interpretations

When conditions of the test administration vary from the specified default conditions by the test publisher, the test scores interpretation, both norm-referenced and criterion, the conditions of the actual administration should be taken into account. Sensitivity and caution are suggested in test results interpretation from administrations that vary from conditions of the default especially when the research is not impact definitive to test some of the accommodations constructs. There may be support of the test scores Criterion- referencing interpretation. This represents an achievement level which is fixed and which can be interpreted according to what students know and what they are to do at a given score whether scale score, raw score or a level of performance defined by a range of scale scores. For instance, a proficient performance level achievement on a mathematics test by a second grade student may demonstrate the following abilities, skills and knowledge: that the proficient student counts by twos; read time to the half hour; know place value to hundreds; classify and describe common shapes; measure to nearest centimeter and inch; have a spatial sense of three dimensional; can measure lengths in units that are nonstandard; can combine blocks of pattern to form given shapes; can use data to solve problems; can extend patterns of geometric and numerical and can complete bar graphs and tally charts. Thus, the interpretation may be that, the student, given the particular scale score, raw score or level of performance, can demonstrate skills, abilities and knowledge with the extra time accommodation. There may also be support of test scores norm-referenced interpretations. Examples are NP (National percentile) rank, NCE (normal curve equivalent), and GE (Grade Equivalent) scores. These scores are interpreted according to the performance of a student in comparison with a specified group's performance. When a given norm referenced score has been achieved by a student, e.g. 50th NP, on a test of mathematics with accommodation, (the test directions are read by the teacher, questions and stimulus material) the conditions for testing should be put into consideration along with the NP score. In this case, the only valid interpretation would be that the student whose mathematics test was read aloud performed better or as well than 50 (%) of the norm group students. With the given interpretive guidelines, the following approaches are recommended by CBT for inclusive administrations test results interpretation: 1. Information that is appropriate for the individual performance interpretation; a student who takes accommodations test should be awarded the same scale scores which have been referenced to tables of same norms like the students with the same performance of the test which have been achieved under conditions which are default. However, the results of the individual student obtained using accommodations testing should be interpreted in accordance with the accommodation used. 2. Information that is appropriate for the group's performance interpretation; it is a recommendation of CTB that results' summaries used for purposes of accountability be presented in both disaggregated and aggregated forms. Aggregated results are results' summaries that include all the tested students. The presentation should include percent and number of the students who took the accommodations test so as to enable interpretation of the aggregated results to be interpreted in accordance to changes in the accommodations use across years and groups. The summaries of the aggregated results include only those students who are able to meet a specified criterion, like those students who took the tests in such conditions defined as default by the publisher of the test (CTB/McGraw-Hill, 2004).

Conclusion

Assessment of learning of the student can be carried on using a variety of methods and instruments that are available. Wide range of assessment approaches have been tested and used in a variety of academic programs to determine whether the prescribed educational goals were being attained by the students.

TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) as a basic assessment tool which has been commercially produced for the basic education of the adults. TABE is designed to assess language, mathematics, reading, and spelling skills. It is available in pencil and paper, and formats that are computer based. It predominate as a tool of assessment because it has scoring reliability and construct validity, is easy to be administered to groups, the training required is minimal on the part of the teacher, and is stipulated by funding sources. The content areas measured by TABE include reading, language, vocabulary reading, computation in mathematics, applied mathematics, comprehension reading, language mechanics, computation in mathematics, applications and concepts of mathematics, expression of language and spelling which is optional. There are sub-skills and subordinate objectives in each of the content areas.

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