Summary of Best Practices

What are some overall best practices for placement testing?

Here are some practices we recommend for effective selection and use of placement tests:

  • Design a placement process that is tailored to your needs. This may involve using locally-developed tools for placement purposes or to supplement existing placement tests to get a high degree of reliability within your placement.
  • Consider whether off-the-shelf placement tests may be appropriate and feasible to use with your students. You can search for available assessments based on language, grade level, and proficiency level, intended test use, and skills tested in the Foreign Language Assessment Directory.
  • If you develop your own test, make sure you involve assessment experts in that process so that you can ensure it is of high quality and you can evaluate its efficacy in a rigorous way.
  • Align your placement testing methods with your course content and goals and use multiple methods of assessment to effectively measure students’ abilities in the language.
  • Consider using informational questionnaires and/or self-assessments in addition to or in place of other types of placement tests to allow students to reflect on their knowledge, experiences, and skills.
  • Consider students’ motivations for learning the language when making decisions about students whose placement test scores indicate they are between two course levels.
  • Plan for the use of placement test results and continuously reflect on and evaluate the placement process to make improvements in the future.
  • Establish realistic expectations for the accuracy of your placement process and account for the need to occasionally reassign students.