Frequently Asked Questions
There are many different ways to assess language proficiency including through observation, class work or projects, formative assessments, or through standardized assessments.
There are many factors to consider when choosing an assessment. First, you need to determine if a formative assessment (informal classroom assessments) or a standardized assessment (tests that can be used for reporting purposes) is required.
If a standardized assessment is needed, you need to consider the purpose for using the assessment. Will the assessment be use for placement, diagnostics, progress, program evaluation, reporting, or all of the above? If you will be using this assessment to report outcomes, you will need to check with your state’s assessment policy to see what tests are approved for that use in your state. You should also consider your learners’ goals and your curriculum to select an assessment that best fits those factors.
Other factors to consider when choosing an assessment include: training (time and costs), time needed to administer the test, availability of staff to administer the test, group or individual administration of the test, and cost of materials.
BEST Plus and BEST Literacy are the adult ESL assessments developed by CAL to meet the needs of language educators and programs serving adult English language learners (ELLs). An adult is anyone 16 years or older who is not in secondary school.
BEST Plus is an individually administered face-to-face adaptive oral interview designed to assess the English language proficiency of adult English language learners (ELLs) that measures the full range of proficiency levels represented in adult education programs. The examinee’s ability to communicate in English through questions is tied to authentic situations that arise in daily life in the United States such as going to the doctor, getting a job, housing, and community services. BEST Plus is available as a computer-adaptive version and as a semi-adaptive print-based version. For more information about BEST Plus, click here.
BEST Literacy tests reading and writing skills in authentic situations specifically geared for adult language learners in the U.S. such as reading dates on a calendar, addressing and envelope, and writing a short personal note. BEST Literacy can be administered individually or in groups in one hour or less. The BEST Literacy Test Manual provides test administrators with all the information they need to give and score the test, including a rubric with clear benchmarks for scoring the note-writing task. For more information about BEST Literacy, click here
BEST Plus and BEST Literacy are designed to assess the English language skills of adult English language learners in the United States who are 16 years and older. These tests provide data regarding their oral proficiency skills (BEST Plus) or their reading and writing skills (BEST Literacy) in an educational setting. For more information, please see our Test Usage Policy.
In addition, BEST Plus requires that all test administrators complete the Test Administrator Training Workshop with a certified BEST Plus trainer. For more information on training options, please click here.
CALdoes not require BEST Literacy training however BEST Literacy test administrators and scorers must read and review the BEST Literacy Test Manual before and after administering the test. In addition, individual states and programs may have their own training requirements in order to administer BEST Literacy.
No. BEST Plus and BEST Literacy scores are not currently aligned to any job descriptors such as job functions, duties, or tasks, and should not be used for employment screening purposes or other similar activities that fall outside the purview of educational uses.
However, you can also contact us to request information on the feasibility and cost of adapting BEST Plus for specific purposes or audiences, interpreting BEST Plus scores through a system other than those described here, or developing a test to meet your specific needs
Yes. BEST Plus and BEST Literacy are approved for use with the National Reporting System (NRS).
BEST Literacy test booklets and the Test Manual are available for purchase online through the CAL Store using a credit card or you can download an order form and include it with a purchase order or check and mail them to:
Center for Applied Linguistics
P.O. Box 418564
Boston, MA 02241-8564
BEST Plus can only be purchased by programs that have trained BEST Plus test administrators. Once you have been trained on BEST Plus, materials are available for purchase online through the CAL Store using a credit card or you can download an order form and include it with a purchase order or check and mail them to the PO Box address above.
Please allow one business day for processing. Signed copies of purchase orders must be received by CAL for all orders before we will ship your order.
You can contact our client relations and user support staff Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM ET by phone at 866-845-2378, option 1, or by e-mail.