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Basic English Skills Test

Test Name: Basic English Skills Test
Publisher: Center for Applied Linguistics
Publication Date: 1984
Test Type: Language Proficiency
Content: 4 Language Skills
Language: English
Target Population: English Language Learner (ELL)
Grade Level: Adult
Administration Time: Over 90 min
Standardized: Yes
Purpose: Diagnosis; Placement; Proficiency

The Basic English Skills Test (BEST) is a criterion-referenced test of elementary level listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing skills for use with limited-English-speaking adults who have studied English as a Second Language in a competency-based program. The Core Section is a 10-15 minute individually administered interview based on simulations of real-life listening comprehension and speaking tasks like telling time, asking for and following directions, counting money, and conversing socially. A reading task involving word recognition, and a writing task in which a biographical data form is completed, identify examinees who should go on to take the one-hour Literacy Skills Section which tests at a more basic level and which can be administered to groups or individuals. Test materials include photographs, calendars, and diagrams representing common day-to-day situations. BEST can be used for placement, proficiency, and diagnostic purposes, and scores may be calculated immediately after testing by tallying the frequency of three response levels recorded on the score sheet by the interviewer. The Administrator's Manual includes scoring guidelines for each item, and test administrators must be familiar with these guidelines before giving the test. Several ways of interpreting scores are suggested. If BEST is being used to place students in three language classes of increasing difficulty, the examinees with scores in the bottom third could be placed in the lowest level class, etc. Descriptions of seven proficiency levels are detailed in the scoring material and examinees may be assigned to one of these levels by the scores. The KR-20 estimate of internal reliability ranges from the .70s to the .90s for the Core Section, but is about .90 for the Literacy Skills section. BEST was field-tested on over 1800 examinees whose native languages included Vietnamese, Hmong, Lao, Cambodian/Khmer, Chinese, Spanish, and Polish.

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