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BEST Plus and BEST Literacy. Directors’ Training. Feb. 14, 2013. Columbia, SC. What are BEST Plus and BEST Literacy?. BEST Plus and BEST Literacy Overview. Who can administer BEST Plus?.

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best plus and best literacy

BEST Plus and BEST Literacy

Directors’ Training

Feb. 14, 2013

Columbia, SC

what are best plus and best literacy
What are BEST Plus and BEST Literacy?

BEST Plus and BEST Literacy Overview

who can administer best plus
Who can administer BEST Plus?
  • BEST Plus Test Administrators must complete and pass a six-hour training, led by a certified BEST trainer. They should then administer 10 practice tests and observe one experienced Test Administrator before giving a “real” test.
  • Anyone who has not been approved as a test administrator by CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics) should not assess students using BEST Plus.
who can administer best plus1
Who can administer BEST Plus?
  • Newly approved BEST Plus Test Administrators must complete a Scoring Refresher training six weeks to three months after their initial training and show competency in scoring all three areas of the test.
  • Thereafter, Test Administrators must attend a Scoring Refresher training annually and demonstrate scoring competency.
who can administer best literacy
Who can administer BEST Literacy?
  • BEST Literacy may be administered with no formal training after the Test Administrator has reviewed and studied the BEST Literacy Test manual.

CAL recommends that all Test Administrators (BEST Plus and BEST Literacy) have a strong command of the English language and be familiar with working with second language learners.

  • What is BEST Plus?
  • What does BEST Plus look like?
  • What is the content of BEST Plus?
  • How is BEST Plus scored?
  • What do we know about the reliability and validity of BEST Plus?
  • How is BEST Plus used?
what is best plus
What is BEST Plus?
  • BEST Plus is . . .
    • a performance-based assessment (an individually administered face-to-face oral interview) . . .
    • that assesses functional oral language skills (interpersonal communication) of adult English language learners . . .
    • and is designed with current assessment needs in mind.
objectives for best plus development
Objectives for BEST Plus development
  • Respond to the assessment and accountability needs of adult ESL programs.
    • Produce a test that is short and practical.
    • Assess learner language for a variety of purposes and stakeholders.
    • Increase accuracy in measuring oral language proficiency.
    • Provide multiple forms for pretesting and post testing.
best plus uses current measurement techniques to improve assessment
BEST Plus uses current measurement techniques to improve assessment.
  • Measurement is based on Item Response Theory (IRT).
    • All questions assess listening and speaking ability on the same underlying measurement scale.
    • Multiple scores are awarded for each question.
    • IRT ensures that results of pretests and post tests are comparable.
best plus provides a large item pool
BEST Plus provides a large item pool.

Currently, the item pool contains 256 questions

  • The item pool is large enough that examinees are administered different sets of questions with each assessment.
    • The ability to memorize test questions is minimized.
    • BEST Plus can be used for pretesting and post testing. (No “forms”)
what does best plus look like computer adaptive version
What does BEST Plus look like?(Computer-adaptive version)
  • Test items for the test administrator to ask appear on the computer screen.
  • If a test item requires a picture, examinees view the picture on the computer screen.
  • Test administrators enter scores directly into the computer.

Beginning level test question

Advanced level test question

what is the content of best plus
What is the content of BEST Plus?

These topics are representative of the ones covered in the ESL Scope and Sequence of Skills.

Content: 13 specific domains

nested in three general domains

ESL Scope and Sequence of Skills

how is best plus scored
How is BEST Plus scored?
  • The test administrator uses the BEST PlusScoring Rubric to guide scoring decisions.
  • The examinee’s response to each item is scored on three aspects of language:
    • Listening Comprehension
    • Language Complexity
    • Communication
three aspects of language
Three aspects of language
  • Listening Comprehension: How well did the examinee understand the setup and question?
  • Language Complexity: How did the examinee organize and elaborate the response?
  • Communication: How clearly did the examinee communicate meaning?
path through the computer adaptive version
Path through the computer-adaptive version
  • Following fixed warm-up questions, examinees are asked questions drawn from several thematically based folders.
  • The test administrator scores each question after the examinee responds.
  • After each set of scores is entered, the computer updates its estimate of the examinee’s ability and chooses folders and questions as appropriate.
  • The test gives the minimum number of items to ascertain an examinee’s proficiency level.
  • Users can immediately receive a complete score report.
what do we know about the reliability and validity of best plus
What do we know about the reliability and validity of BEST Plus?
  • Rigorous development procedures
    • Feasibility study (1999-2000)
    • Initial development (2000-2001)
    • Pilot, small-scale field test, initial reliability study (2001)
    • Revisions (2001-2002)
    • Pilot, full-scale field test, reliability study, standard- setting study (2002)
    • Finalization of training materials, ancillary materials, further refinements (2003-2004)
    • Field test for test update (2011-2012)
full involvement of stakeholders
Full involvement of stakeholders
  • Oversight from U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE)
  • Technical Working Group (TWG), comprised of researchers, state directors, and local program directors and practitioners
  • Item writers, comprised of experienced adult ESL teaching professionals
  • Instructors and students in the field
full scale field test
Full-scale field test
  • Participants:
    • Eight states (DE, FL, IL, MA, MD, OR, PA, VA) and the District of Columbia
    • 23 programs
    • 40 test administrators
    • 2,420 examinees
reliability study
Reliability study
  • 32 adult ESL students
  • Two testing rooms (A, B)
    • Test Administrator (project staff member)
    • Observer/Co-Scorer (project staff member)
    • Observer/Co-Scorer (novice scorer)
  • Each student was tested in Room A or B, then immediately retested in the other room.
test retest reliability
Test/Retest reliability

Between two test administrations

(different rooms)

average interrater agreement
Average interrater agreement

Within one administration

(same room)

ability estimation
Ability estimation
  • After each question, the computer program underlying BEST Plus estimates the examinee’s ability based on scores awarded on the current and all previous questions.
  • With each estimation, the accuracy of the measurement increases.
  • Goal: To level off in estimation with an acceptable level of accuracy.
the best plus score report
The BEST Plus score report
  • Information includes
    • BEST Plus scale score
    • Student Performance Level (SPL)
    • Diagnostic information
how is best plus used
How is BEST Plus used?
  • BEST Plus allows programs to assess the everyday listening and speaking skills of English language learners for a variety of purposes:
    • To determine placementinto a program.
    • To track progress.
    • To provide feedback to learners and teachers to improve instruction.
    • To evaluate program effectiveness.
    • To report outcomes (e.g., pretesting and post testing to meet NRS requirements).
best plus score management

For detailed information on this topic, please refer to the “Score Management Software User Guide” located in the BP Test Administrator Guide

BEST PlusScore Management
  • The Score Management Software program provides users with the ability to manage data contained within the BEST PlusScores Database.
  • Features include
    • Importing and exporting student data.
    • Backing up the scores database.
    • Producing a complete score report for the print-based version of the test.
    • Purchasing more test administrations.
best plus print based version
BEST Plus:Print Based Version
  • May be administered without a computer; useful for sites without computer access or in the event of a computer malfunction.
  • However, a computer is necessary to determine a scaled score for an individual student.
  • To get a scaled score for the print based version, the test administrator must access the “Print-based scoring” tab on the BEST Plus testing CD. They must then input scores from each test item to get a scaled score.
path through the print based version
Path through the print-based version
  • The test administrator administers and scores the locator test (fixed warm-up items and two high-end discriminators).
  • Examinees answer questions from the appropriate level test based on the chart in the examinee test booklet.
  • The test administrator totals the raw scores and finds the approximate SPL range.
  • The raw scores are entered into the computer via the BEST Plus Score Management Software to obtain a complete score report.
what does best plus look like print based version
What does BEST Plus look like?(Print-based version)
  • Test
    • Three forms
    • Within each form: locator test + three level tests
  • Materials
    • Picture cue book
    • Examinee test booklet (scripts and score sheet combined)
best literacy
BEST Literacy

Also aligns with the ESL Scope and Sequence of Skills

  • BEST Literacy assesses a student’s English reading and writing skills.
  • Life skills based.
  • BEST Literacy may be administered to a group or to an individual.
  • Again, no formal training is required to administer this test; Test Administrator must study the BEST Literacy training manual to learn to score this test.
best literacy1
BEST Literacy
  • Comes in three parallel forms (B,C and D).
  • Should (generally) only be administered to students with oral proficiency (on BEST Plus) of Level 3 or higher.
  • Takes 60 minutes to complete.
  • Must be hand-scored.
why use best literacy with your esl students
Why use BEST Literacy with your ESL students?
  • Use to assess reading and writing instruction in the ESL classroom.
  • Use as a method to show reading and writing progress in ESL students.
  • Use with students who test at Level 7 or higher on BEST Plus to retain them as ESL students.
  • Aligns with instruction in the ESL classroom better than TABE.
pre and post testing
Pre- and Post-Testing
  • Students should be pre-tested on BEST Plus (and BEST Literacy, if necessary/desired) PRIOR to attending 12 hours of class.
  • Students must attend a MINIMUM of 60 hours before post-testing (different than the 40 hour requirement in ABE)
  • Pre- and post-test must use the same assessment (either BEST Plus OR BEST Literacy)
best assessments and laces
BEST Assessments and LACES

1.Choose or enter a student and then click “Assessments” 2. Click “Add New”



best assessments and laces1
BEST Assessments and LACES
  • To input BEST Literacy Scores:
    • 1. Click BEST Literacy
  • 2. Select a form (B,C, or D)
  • 3. Click (not applicable)
  • When the Continue button becomes active, click Continue.




best assessments and laces2
BEST Assessments and LACES

1.Input scores and date

2. Click save



practical information
Practical Information
  • You must purchase tests directly from CAL (see sample order form).
  • These tests are added to your program’s “virtual bank.”
  • Approved Test Administrators are given a unique username and password to access the “bank.”
  • Tests are activated in groups of 20.
  • Tests are connected to the computer on which they are activated.
  • BEST Plus tests cost approximately $1.50/test (depending on quantity ordered).
  • Print-based tests are the same price and use one “banked” test (the same as a Computer Adaptive test).
practical information cont d
Practical Information, cont’d
  • To order BEST Literacy tests, you also must order directly from CAL (see sample order form).
  • Each test includes a consumable test booklet and answer form.
  • Tests cost about $2.50/test.
online orders
Online Orders

For expedited and credit card orders, go to:

still have questions contact your regional esl consultant
Still have questions? Contact your Regional ESL Consultant:

Region 1

  • Monica Rodriguez

Region 2

  • Karen Hodges

Region 3

  • Rebecca Carter

Region 4

  • Jan Camp

Region 5

  • Wendy Griffin
for more information
For more information

Call:1-866-845-BEST (2378)

Write:Center for Applied Linguistics Attn: BEST Plus 4646 40th Street, NW Washington, DC 20016-1859

Visit the Web

resources for this presentation
Resources for this presentation
  • Center for Applied Linguistics (
  • SC Adult Education Assessment Policy Manual
  • BEST Plus Test Administrators Guide