Avant Blog

How I Grew My Language Programs with NADSFL

By: Bonnie Peterson I don’t scare easily.  I’ve been skydiving, extensively traveled the world alone, and taught junior high and high school French for 17 years. From a lifetime of facing my fears, I thought that I could do anything.  Then, I applied for and was hired as our district’s World Languages Supervisor, and I

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How can language programs leverage Texas’ Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA)?

In 2019, Texas passed legislation to create the Teacher Incentive Allotment for Texas schools as a realistic pathway for teachers to earn higher salaries and focus funding on traditionally hard-to-staff schools and districts. Since then, school districts across the state have applied for this funding and generated an additional $40 million for their districts and

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Study Abroad During A Pandemic? Here Is How CIEE Did It Successfully

If you thought COVID was tough on your school or organization, imagine being in the study abroad business. Airplanes grounded. Host families can’t take strangers into their homes. Schools around the world are closed. You can’t do study abroad on Zoom. The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) typically sends about 15,000 Americans abroad and

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Discovering the Potential of Your Language Programs with Avant STAMP Data

Avant’s Regional Account Managers Roger Burt and Bonnie Peterson Hear from Avant’s Regional Account Managers Roger Burt and Bonnie Peterson about how they used the data from the Avant STAMP Assessment at Clearfield High School and Davis School District to improve their students’ outcomes and their school’s programs. Roger: My experience with STAMP started in

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Albuquerque Bilingual Students see Themselves in School Leadership

Carl Falsgraf  In school, Jessica Villalobos could not see herself. People who looked like her, shared her background, who spoke Spanish were nowhere to be seen in the textbooks, novels, and films at her school. “I saw windows, but no mirrors,” she says. “These windows into the dominant culture helped me understand the wider world.

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Using STAMP to Create a Culture of Learning at the College of DuPage

Carl Falsgraf  Sandra Martins was a good Spanish student. But, when she finally visited Spain for the first time, she found much of what she had learned to be useless.  “All that studying, and I didn’t even feel comfortable buying a newspaper,” she says. Sandra could easily have been one of those people who say,

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Data is the Secret when it comes to Language Proficiency

Data is the Secret when it comes to Language Proficiency A data-driven approach to language proficiency helps Hebrew at the Center turn Hebrew students into Hebrew speakers. How do you get the most out of your language program at your school? For many schools across the country, the answer is the same: Hebrew at the

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Children in the classroom taking the Avant STAMP Language Proficiency Test

Student Avant STAMP Language Proficiency Test Scores Skyrocket

Simply letting students talk more during a class led to dramatic improvements in students’ language proficiency skills at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. When Daniella Friedman began working as the Language Coordinator for Kindergarten – 5th grade at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Maryland, one of the first things she

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Duct Tape & Online Assessment

Carl Falsgraf Duct Tape & Online Assessment You don’t want water leaking into your box of explosives. So, in 1943, the War Production Board commissioned Johnson & Johnson to develop a solution. They came up with a treated cloth tape they colored green to match the ordnance boxes. GIs called it “duck tape” because of the

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Welcoming Bonnie Flint to the Avant Family

David Bong Welcoming Bonnie Flint to the Avant Family I would like to introduce myself as the newest team member at Avant Assessment.  I am thrilled to be here, and I am excited about many of the things we will be working on soon. Over the past 12 years, I was the World Languages Supervisor at

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Carl Robertson: The Mad Scientist of Texas

Carl Falsgraf  Blog Carl Robertson: The Mad Scientist of Texas Despite his doctorate in comparative literature, Carl Robertson is a scientist at heart. He is always conducting experiments on his Chinese program at Southwestern University in Texas. “Every year, I have at least one pedagogic objective I focus on,” he says. “Maybe a technique or

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Recognizing all Heritage Language Learners in Texas

Stephany Sipes Recognizing all Heritage Language Learners in Texas Stephany Sipes is the World Language Coordinator in Plano, Texas, and a language educator for 13 years. As World Language Coordinator in Plano, Texas, I oversee the curriculum and instruction of more than 12,000 students. Our team of outstanding teachers believe passionately in our mission of ensuring

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4 Fun Ways to Help Students Maintain their Language Skills this Summer

4 Fun Ways to Help Students Maintain Their Language Skills This Summer Your kids worked hard all school year learning and improving their world language skills. Don’t let the summer or holiday slide set them back! It’s finally that time of year- school is out! You’ve finished the spring testing season, final report cards are

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Why wait until high school for Seal of Biliteracy?

David BongWhy wait until high school for Seal of Biliteracy? As the school year comes to an end and high school graduates celebrate their awards and achievements, many will receive a Seal of Biliteracy on their diploma. But is high school too late to be getting students excited about language learning and the Seal of

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5 Expert Language Testing Tips for Teachers & Students

5 Expert Language Testing Tips for Teachers & Students By following these tips from some of Avant’s expert raters, students can feel more confident going into their language proficiency tests this spring. Nobody knows what success looks like on a language proficiency test better than Avant’s team of expert raters – those who have experienced

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Expanding Opportunities for Polish Speakers: As Seal of Biliteracy Testing Increases, So Should Access

David Bong Expanding Opportunities for Polish Speakers: As Seal of Biliteracy Testing Increases, So Should Access The number of states and school districts offering the “Seal of Biliteracy” continues to increase rapidly across the country, providing tremendous opportunity for students who have put the work in to master a second language. As the initiative grows, we

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Pre-service teacher talking about Avant ADVANCE

ADVANCE: Making Proficiency Real for Preservice Teachers

ADVANCE: MAKING PROFICIENCY REAL FOR PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS Tell me and I forget Teach me and I remember Involve me and I learn                   -Benjamin Franklin The publication of the ACTFL Proficiency guidelines in 1986 was a watershed moment for the field. At last, we had a common yardstick

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As More States Adopt the Seal Of Biliteracy, Language Assessment Company Launches Program To Increase Testing Access For Schools And Students

For Immediate Release February 15, 2018 Contact: Katie Ward (603-689-8170) EUGENE, OR (February 15, 2018) – As the number of states and school districts adopting the “Seal of Biliteracy” has increased dramatically across the country, a language assessment company has announced a new promotion to increase equity and access to testing to evaluate students’ world

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Data Literacy: It Doesn’t Take an Einstein

Carl Falsgraf Data Literacy: It Doesn’t Take an Einstein It seems everybody hates tests these days. Only 14% of parents think standardized testing is very important in evaluating schools1, making it slightly less popular than used car salesmen and the U.S. Congress, but two points more popular than North Korea. The testing community thanks you, Kim

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Avant ADVANCE: Bringing the Standards to Life

Carl Falsgraf Avant ADVANCE: Bringing the Standards to Life Art Fry was so frustrated, he almost said a bad word in church.  Every time he opened his hymnal, his bookmarks fluttered to the floor. Then he remembered that one of his colleagues at 3M had recently concocted a strange glue that wasn’t very sticky. He applied

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Training Raters, Transforming Classrooms

Carl Falsgraf Training Raters, Transforming Classrooms “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”                         – Aristotle Avant gets calls from schools around the country every day. But this one was different. “What have you done to Marie-Pierre?”

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Interview with Marzanna Owinski of The Polish Mission

Carl Falsgraf Interview with Marzanna Owinski of The Polish Mission “My kids are in Poland now, using their Polish to communicate with family, make friends, really connect with people there.” The proud mother, Marzanna Owinski, is also a language educator leading efforts to improve and expand Polish language education in America. Her organization, The Polish Mission, has

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Avant STAMP and the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines

Avant STAMP and the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines STAMP was originally developed by the Center for Applied Second Language Studies(CASLS) at the University of Oregon to meet the need for an online proficiency assessment that was based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. The “STA” in STAMP stands for the “Standards” in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. Why

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Why Proficiency Assessment Matters

David Bong  Why Proficiency Assessment Matters Proficiency is a much-discussed and frequently used word in the language education field. Our company and others deliver “proficiency” assessments. But which proficiency is most important to assess? Is it a student’s proficiency at conjugating verbs or reproducing dialogues memorized in the traditional way of teaching language in the U.S. and

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How Does Avant Rate Speaking and Writing Responses?

David Bong  Who rates the STAMP tests? The human rated responses in the Avant STAMP, PLACE, Arabic Proficiency Test and the Spanish Heritage Language tests are rated by Certified Avant Raters who are language educators/speakers who meet the following minimum requirements: LANGUAGE SKILL: Raters must maintain advanced or higher level of language skills (determined by

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Why Avant Now Recommends Avant STAMP 4Se Beginning with Grades 2 Students

David Bong Background Information Avant STAMP 4Se was developed especially to assess the language proficiency of elementary students. Although STAMP 4Se is a real world proficiency assessment, it uses only questions (items) and content based around daily school and home life for students who are attending an elementary school in the U.S. To make the

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Heritage Language Student in Graduation Gown

Why Heritage Language Learning Matters

Why Heritage Language Learning Matters The United States is a country of immigrants, but historically the second generation of these immigrants(heritage language learners) has lost their parents’ language – making our country poorer for it; economically, linguistically, and culturally. Why has this happened repeatedly throughout our history? One reason could be the pressures of acculturation

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Test Reliability and Validity

David Bong These are two of the most misunderstood terms in language testing. Both are very important in determining whether a particular test is appropriate in a given situation. Simply stated, reliability means that if you give the same test to the same student s/he will get the same score. This is not easy to

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Fixed Form VS. Adaptive Test Design in Language Proficiency Testing

David Bong Blog There are two fundamental test designs in language proficiency testing: Fixed-Form and Adaptive. In a fixed form test, every test taker receives the same items (aka questions) that are delivered on paper or computer. An adaptive test can only be delivered on a computer. The computer algorithm scores each item as the test

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How Standards are used in Language Proficiency Assessments

Language proficiency assessment can seem complex or even mysterious – a black box that just spits out a score. However, it isn’t that complicated once you get familiarized with a few basic concepts. I will be describing some of these basic concepts in the next few blog entries. Here is the first.  Standards-Based (or Criterion-based)

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What is Proficiency?

David Bong  Blog What is Proficiency? It is definitely NOT what I learned in my college Japanese courses.  Proficiency is a much-discussed word in the language field. Our company delivers Avant STAMP and other “proficiency” tests. But what proficiency are we assessing? Proficiency at conjugating verbs or reproducing dialogues memorized in the classroom? After all,

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Teacher helping student with world language proficiency test

Proficiency VS. Performance VS. Achievement

Proficiency vs. Performance vs. Achievement Simply stated, Proficiency is the ability to use language in a real-world situation, Performance is the ability to use language in a limited and controlled situation such as a classroom or controlled situation-based exchange, and Achievement is the ability to repeat language elements that have been taught and mastered at

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