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Assessment - BEST Plus

What Is BEST Plus?

BEST Plus logoIn the previous section of this module, we listed different elements to be considered when observing a speaker’s oral proficiency. These elements can be assessed in different ways for different purposes. Together they comprise three broad categories of language proficiency skills: listening comprehension, language complexity, and communication.

Since the early 1980s, CAL has applied research on second language acquisition and instructional practice to developing language assessments. BEST Plus, CAL’s standardized assessment tool for conversational English, provides a valid and reliable framework for understanding the three broad categories of oral language proficiency listed above.1 These components are useful not only for assessment purposes but for instructional purposes as well. If you are not a BEST Plus user, your understanding of how oral language proficiency is developed can still benefit from the discussion and examples in this module related to these three components of language ability.

As a performance-based assessment, BEST Plus does not test students’ explicit knowledge about English, such as specific grammar points, vocabulary, pronunciation, culture, or language functions that the students might have learned in class or from a textbook. Rather, it allows teachers to learn about their students’ abilities to express themselves through everyday conversation. There is no specific textbook or curriculum that can be used to prepare students for testing with BEST Plus; English learners who practice speaking in meaningful ways are typically very comfortable with the format of BEST Plus. Teachers are encouraged to use a student-centered, communicative approach in the classroom that promotes student-student interaction through many kinds of activities. (See the Instruction section for ideas for classroom speaking and listening activities.)

Trained BEST Plus test administrators who would like to refresh their knowledge about the assessment, teachers who work in programs that use BEST Plus, and others who are not familiar with it are encouraged to review the BEST Plus FAQ Slideshow.

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Links iconLearn more about CAL’s adult ESL assessment BEST Plus.

Links iconReview this short tutorial on BEST Plus.