Introducing STEPS and GOALS 2Marty Olsen, Assessment Trainer
Reading STEPS? Listening STEPS? Math GOALS 2? It’s an ACRONYM Party! There are three new tests that have been added to the Minnesota ABE (Adult Basic Education) Assessment Policy and can now be used for the purposes of NRS reporting. Before getting into what we know about the tests, let’s define some of the acronyms that we are using.
CASAS – Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems – This is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1980, that focuses on developing comprehensive assessment systems to support adult education programs and their learners.
NRS – National Reporting System for Adult Education – This is the accountability system for Federally funded adult education programs, authorized by Section 212 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
GOALS – Greater Opportunities for Adult Learning Success – These assessments include NRS-approved reading and math test series for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Adult Secondary Education (ASE) learners. The test content is aligned with the College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standards for Adult Education.
STEPS – Student Test of English Progress and Success – The target population for these assessments is English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. The test content is aligned with the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards for Adult Education.
There are many more acronyms scattered and defined throughout this article.
The New Tests
The new CASAS math test is called Math GOALS 2. This series offers tests at five levels which allows the series to cover in greater depth the full range of ability levels in the College and Career Readiness Standards and the NRS Educational Functioning Level (EFL) Descriptors for Adult Basic Education mathematics standards. These assessments cover all ABE levels from Beginning ABE Literacy through Adult Secondary Education and are appropriate for all learners who want to improve their math skills. For more information about these assessments visit https://www.casas.org/product-overviews/assessments/math-goals-2. There you will find FAQs, Sample Test Items by test level, Content Standard Blueprints, Competency Blueprints, Task Area Blueprints, and Grade Level Equivalents.
The new reading test for English Language Learners is CASAS Reading STEPS. This series offers tests at five levels and is aligned to the English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education. It replaces both the CASAS Beginning Literacy and the CASAS Life & Work Reading series. English literacy skills are assessed in everyday life and workplace contexts. The difficulty level of the assessments is Beginning Literacy through Advanced ESL. These assessments are appropriate for all learners for whom English is not their first language, until they have scored a 239 or higher on the test. At that point they can be transferred to the GOALS series. For more information about these assessments visit https://www.casas.org/product-overviews/assessments/reading-steps. There you will find FAQs, Content Standard Blueprints, Competency Blueprints, Task Area Blueprints, Sample Items by NRS level, and Grade Level Equivalents.
The newest listening test for English Language Learners is CASAS Listening STEPS. This series is aligned with the English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education and includes 5 test levels to improve accuracy, resulting in better student outcomes. These tests will assess English language listening skills in the context of everyday life and workplace contexts. For more information about these assessments, visit https://www.casas.org/product-overviews/assessments/listening-steps where you will find FAQs, Content Standard Blueprints, Competency Blueprints, Sample Items by NRS level, Sample Items Audio by NRS Level, and Grade Level Equivalents.
Where to Purchase?
Information on purchasing the three new CASAS series can be accessed through https://www.casas.org/product-overviews/search-by-test-series. The series are marked New!. Select the series you are interested in purchasing and click on it. To order the assessment online, click on the “Order Now” button on the right-hand side of the screen. You will note that you must be logged in to the website to add products to the cart. Another option is to complete an order form and email the order form to email@example.com. You will still need to access the online order pages to locate the item numbers.
What Should I Purchase?
Test Administration Manual – It is important that you purchase a Test Administration Manual (TAM) for each series that you intend to administer. Also, be reminded that you should purchase at least one TAM for each site that is going to be administering tests.
Appraisal – You should purchase an appraisal package for each assessment and each site that will be offering intake and assessment. Math GOALS 2 and Reading STEPS offer appraisals in packets of either 10 or 25. The Listening appraisal is on a CD.
Progress Tests (Pre- and Post-tests) – You should purchase all levels of the series that you will be administering. Both the Math GOALS 2 and the Reading STEPS offer packages of 5 each level, 10 each level, or 25 each of single levels. Listening STEPS offers a package that has 25 color test booklets for each level A form, and one CD for each form. (Listening Level A is the only Listening test that has a booklet.) Or you can purchase the forms for Level A in packs of 25, and the other levels only require the purchase of a CD for each form.
Answer Sheets – You can purchase Answer Sheets from CASAS or create your own.
Do I Need Additional Training?
The new tests are multiple choice assessments and are administered exactly the same way as the old series. Refer to the Test Administration Manual for test timing, because the test times are different than previous test series. Implementation training for test administration is required for new staff but is not required for previously trained staff. Their training transfers to the new tests, and, as assessment policy states, must be updated every five years.
Transitioning to the New Tests
The first step in transitioning to the new tests will be to ensure that you have tests available. Order early, as the paper test orders have been taking longer than normal to arrive. The older tests are still approved through June 30, 2024, so you can continue to use them while you place your order and plan your transition. Since your students will have a pretest in the old series, it makes sense to try to give them a posttest in the same series for possible level gains.
If you are using eTests, your previously purchased eTests can be used to administer the new tests. By November 1st, CASAS tech support will add the new series test session templates to the accounts of Minnesota agencies that are current eTest users.
How to Prepare Students for the New Series
Some programs around the country have shared their experiences with transitioning to the new tests. One major finding has been that students may score at a lower Educational Functioning Level on these new tests, due to the increased rigor of the content. This could mean that you may need to consider adjusting your class levels and curriculum.
On Wednesday, November 1, 2:30 to 4:00 pm, Patsy Egan from ATLAS and Christine Wytaske from Metro South will present Attention Teachers! Let’s Talk about What Matters, a webinar to help to clarify what’s going on with the new assessments, their relationship to CCRS, and implications for instruction. Test trainers Linda Keller and Marty Olsen will be there to answer questions about test transitioning and administration.
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