Best PlusSeptember 21, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Calendar, Testing, Training, Volunteers | Leave a comment
On September 11, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia hosted a training given by Margaret Kiernan on administering the Basic English Skills Test (also known as the BEST Plus Test). The BEST Plus Test is used to determine the level of English competency of students enrolling in ESL programs. The Literacy Council utilizes the results of BEST Plus testing to place students in the appropriate program as well as to determine progress made by students after each semester.
Margaret Kiernan taught a full house of prospective testers the ins-and-outs of administering a BEST Plus Test. BEST Plus examines three dimensions of verbal ability, namely, comprehension, complexity, and communication. In order to get the highest score in comprehension, a student must demonstrate they understand the question without repetition and are able to give an appropriate answer. The score for complexity measures a student’s command over English syntax. Finally, the score given for communication evaluates the clarity of the student’s answers. If the tester can easily understand the answer, the student will receive the highest score.
Beyond explaining the complexities of scoring, Margaret Kiernan gave volunteers some insight on the emotions of the students they were soon to test. While new examiners may be nervous administering their first tests, the student sitting ninety-degrees to them would be doubly so. Testers should make the atmosphere relaxing and give as much encouragement to the student as the test allows. While it is easy to get lost in the intricacies of the BEST Plus test, Margaret did a great job grounding the test in its ultimate purpose, to effectively serve the needs of ESL learners.
Thank you to Margaret Kiernan and to all the volunteers who spent their September 11th day of service with the Literacy Council.
-Kerrin Epstein, AmeriCorps Volunteer