We recently learned that the Center for Applied Linguistics will be releasing a new version of our most commonly used standardized test, the BEST Plus. The BEST Plus test assesses speaking and listening ability in our lower level English Language Learners. The test is administered by our team of Literacy Specialists and takes about 20 minutes to complete. It is designed to feel like a typical conversation, a give and take of thoughts and ideas pertaining to basic subjects, including the weather, hobbies, traffic, and more. Examinees are scored on three criteria: listening capacity, language complexity, and communication.
The BEST Plus 2.0 is different in two key ways. The questions have been modified, and the accompanying picture prompts have been updated to correspond with the new questions. This will not change the nature of the test for the user at all. (It will, however, be a welcome break for our staff from the same sets of questions we have been asking repeatedly for the past five years!)
The second major change to the test is the scoring rubric. Currently, the rubric gives a student a score of up to 541 before he/she “scores out” of the test and has to move on to the next test in the series, the BEST Literacy. In the 2.0 version, the rubric will allow an English Language Learner to stay with the BEST Plus until he/she reaches a score of 565. It may seem minor, but this is an important distinction, because often times we have found that non-native English speakers who are testing at or above 541 are really not ready for the next test, so this modification enables them to stay on the BEST Plus for long enough to acquire the skills to be truly ready for the next level.
I’m sure you’re wondering how this will affect you as a tutor. As you know, in the spring, our Literacy Specialists administer their post-tests during one of your tutoring sessions. If you work with an English Language Learner, and your post-test appointment is made for May 1st or later, your student will very likely have to take two tests: a post-test in the BEST Plus (current version), followed by a new pre-test for the next program year in the BEST Plus 2.0. If you are an SGI or SGIB tutor, there is a very strong likelihood that instead of meeting with just one Literacy Specialist, you will find pairs of Specialists coming to deliver the tests in tandem in an effort to save time.
The roll-out of this new test is very exciting for our program and we appreciate your support as we work to transition all English Language Learners to the new test. For more information, please contact your Literacy Specialist.