Best Plus | Best Literacy

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I assess the language proficiency of my students?

There are many different ways to assess language proficiency including through observation, class work or projects, formative assessments, or through standardized assessments.

back to top

What are some factors I need to consider when choosing an assessment?

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.

back to top

What are BEST Plus and BEST Literacy?

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

back to top

Who can use BEST Plus and BEST Literacy?

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.

back to top

Can I use BEST Plus and BEST Literacy to determine if my employees have sufficient language ability to do their job functions?

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

back to top

Are BEST Plus and BEST Literacy approved by the National Reporting System (NRS)?

Yes. BEST Plus and BEST Literacy are approved for use with the National Reporting System (NRS).

back to top

How can I purchase these assessments?

BEST Literacy test booklets and test manual can be purchased online through the CAL Store using a credit card.

BEST Plus can only be purchased by programs that have trained BEST Plus test administrators. Once you have been trained on BEST Plus, materials can be purchased online at the CAL Store.

For purchase orders, you can download an order form on the CAL Store and include with a purchase order or check and mail to CAL following the instructions on the order form. Please allow two business days for processing. Signed copies of purchase orders must be received before products can be shipped.

back to top

Who can I speak to if I have other questions?

For questions regarding orders placed through the CAL Store,
Telephone:  1-855.543.9461 (toll-free)
Monday-Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm ET

CAL’s adult ESL assessments staff are available to answer questions about your assessments
Telephone:  1-866-845-2378, option 1 (toll free)
Monday-Friday 10 am – 6 pm ET


back to top