iTEP on Total Tutor Radio

Boston Educational Services Co-Founder and Chairman Perry Akins was recently interviewed by Neil Haley, the Total Tutor, for the Total Education Network.

The Total Tutor is an internationally syndicated radio show. Its home station is 88.3 FM WRCT Pittsburgh, and it is affiliated with 80 other stations around the country, reaching over 2 million worldwide listeners per week.

Neil asked Perry about his background in education as President of ELS Language Centers and how he made the jump to becoming an entrepreneur. They discussed the development of the International Test of English Proficiency and what led to the creation of iTEP Business, the assessment tool for occupational English, and iTEP SLATE, the English proficiency exam for the middle and high school age range.

Listen to the full interview below.

The Sweet Sounds of the AISAP 2013 Conference

We at iTEP love to travel and meet educators around the world. This often entails going to some pretty cool places. But what could be cooler than Nashville, complete with live entertainment in the shadow of the iconic “Batman” building?

The AISAP (Association of Independent School Admission Professionals) Conference was full of creative people. It was great hear the song stylings of Doug Johnson, Nathalie Stovall, Marshall Altman and Ruth Collins. In a way, independent schools (which come in all varieties including boarding schools, day schools, single-sex or co-ed) are like singer-songwriters. They’re out there doing their own thing.

Independent schools often value being on the cutting edge of best practices and innovations. The independent schools we encounter are often excited to learn that institutions using iTEP exams for international admissions are promoted on our website and at our test centers around the world. Independent schools are eager to expand their applicant pool and grow their international programs.

Interestingly, however, many of these schools use TOEFL, even though this test is designed for college admissions. iTEP SLATE is the only widely available, Internet-based English assessment test created specially for the middle and high school age range. Using a test for the wrong age bracket is like trying to play a guitar part on a fiddle. It’s all going to work out better if you simply have the right tool.

The PIE News Spotlights iTEP SLATE Growth

The Professionals in International Education has a  news item today about iTEP SLATE’s growth in the past year. Since ETS retired their SLEP exam last summer, SLATE, which is made for high school-age young learners, has experienced 300% growth in the number of institutions recognizing it.

One school that recently made the switch is Bakersfield Christian High School. Director of Admissions Alice Abril corresponded with PIE editor Daniel Thomas leading up to this article, but wasn’t ultimately quoted in the piece. We’ll take this opportunity to share one story she told about an AP chemistry student who was admitted before Bakersfield Christian started using SLATE.

He had the science and math ability, but his English capabilities were still limited such that he often did not completely understand the teacher’s instructions. Throughout the year this had resulted in him not being prepared for tests and turning in homework not completed correctly. He was removed from the class for the remainder of the year. I do not believe this student, who was a sophomore at the time, would have qualified to enroll in the class if we had the SLATE score pre-requisite in place.

Clearly, SLATE is more than a replacement for SLEP–it’s an improvement over it. It also has many advantages over TOEFL Junior, another paper-based test available in certain countries. SLATE is comprehensive–it tests reading, listening, grammar, speaking, and writing. Scores for the first three sections are available immediately and the others are scored in less than five business days. The scores, as well as the speaking and writing samples, are available to institutions online. SLATE is more affordably priced than its predecessors and competitors, and also takes less time to administer.

Image: Students in a Bakersfield Christian High School chemistry lab.

iTEP Makes “Impression” at CCID Conference

iTEP representatives, particularly Academic Director Lee Rabideau, have been hitting all sorts of conferences recently. He’s been to six since October, including the  California TESOL Regional Conference at USC last week.

The week before that, iTEP exhibited at the  37th annual Community Colleges for International Development ( CCID) Conference in Atlanta. This one really stood out because community colleges serve an increasingly international student body, and more and more of these institutions are turning to the only English proficiency test with the flexibility to meet their needs.

It also stood out because Lee did an early morning a capella Elvis impression. Yes, really.

He gave a presentation on best practices in recruiting, and, since it was over breakfast, figured the group could use a little rock ‘n’ roll to get warmed up. Judging by the applause, it worked.

It also brought a lot of people to the booth. That, and learning how registering with iTEP is a no-cost way for community colleges to promote their international program, increase their qualified applicant pool, and make the process more convenient and affordable for their applicants. Many representatives sought out the iTEP booth and enthusiastically joined the iTEP family. They found the different versions of the test, ease of access to scores, and on-demand scheduling suits their educational environment perfectly.

Image: Lee poses with Zepur Solakian of the Center for Global Advancemnt of Community Colleges ( CGACC), who organized the breakfast presentation and was kind enough to ask iTEP to participate.

Clark County, Nevada, School District Adopts iTEP SLATE

Las Vegas, Nevada, is a place students around the world often think about visiting or coming to study. After New York and Los Angeles, it might be the most recognizable city in the US.

It’s also home to the one of the largest school districts in the country. Clark County School District is home to more than 300,000 students at 46 public schools throughout Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, and Mesquite. The district is so large, it has its own police force.

Now, students coming from abroad to any of these schools, can use iTEP SLATE to demonstrate their English proficiency. The test is developed specially for the middle and secondary school market, and due to its flexible scheduling and affordable price point, is often the most convenient option. CCSD has already updated its I-20 Student Application Form to include iTEP SLATE.

We’re honored to be a part of CCSD. It seems like a vibrant community (check out the mural below) and we look forward to helping more students from all over the world become a part of it.



tabsAt the annual TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools) Conference last week in Washington D.C., many schools arrived without a way to evaluate the English skills of international applicants. They were thrilled to learn about iTEP SLATE.

Since the SLEP exam was retired earlier this year, many at the conference were looking for a new English proficiency exam tailored to the secondary level. Upon discovering how secure, convenient, and affordable iTEP SLATE is, many institutions signed up to become partner schools.

“Now that SLEP is gone, I’m so glad we’ve discovered SLATE.” says Peter Gieseke, Director of Admission at Monte Vista Christian School. “It’s going to be a great fit for us.”