At Boston Educational Services (BES), we believe that intensive English programs (IEPs) can benefit tremendously from knowing more about their students’ abilities. When IEPs use iTEP (International Test of English Proficiency) for their on-site English evaluations, they get access to a customized “myTEP” account, an unparalleled analytics tool that is both easy to use and powerful.
Cal Poly English Language Institute (CPELI) at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is one IEP making great use of both iTEP and myTEP. In order to gather as much information as possible, CPELI administers iTEP tests to each student completing a course. Like many IEPs, CPELI has multiple “sections” – groups of students studying the same material with different teachers – for each English proficiency level. “We feel strongly we should make concerted efforts for continuity across those sections to be sure that a student’s experience isn’t going to be drastically affected by what section they go into at a particular level,” says CPELI Director, Daniel Lesho. Regular iTEP testing provides Lesho and his team with data they can use to make curriculum and methodological adjustments.
In addition to an overall score, the detailed iTEP score report provides scores for each of the test’s five sections, as well as scores for linguistic sub-skills within sections (parts of speech, synthesis, main idea, etc.). All these scores can be viewed online with a myTEP account, or easily exported to an Excel file, which can then be sorted any number of different ways.
“We look for major disparities,” says Lesho, “or trends we can see for a particular section.” CPELI uses the information to guide teachers, being careful to respect the great care and skill they put into their own evaluations of students. He says teachers often reflect on how they will use the data without being prompted, making comments such as, “Do these lower writing and speaking scores mean that my students are overanalyzing? Do I need to devote more time for them to practice in the classroom?” Lesho adds that the data also allows administrators a chance to evaluate at the wider programmatic level. “Recently, the data indicated that reading skills development seemed to be lagging compared to the other skills. The data helped us begin an objective conversation as to how we could better help students increase their reading proficiency.”
CPELI is just one example of how IEPs can use the detailed data provided by iTEP to improve both their own performance, and that of their students. BES is the only English test provider offering access to such detailed information about students’ linguistic abilities.