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WHY AVANT NOW RECOMMENDS AVANT STAMP 4Se BEGINNING WITH GRADE 2 STUDENTS
Thursday, January 12, 2017 by David Bong
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 assessment appropriate for elementary students, and in order to make sure that we are not assessing their English reading ability, written directions are very limited and are always provided aurally so test takers can listen to them. All critical instructions are given in English for all languages tested. For three languages that have a large number of test-takers who are heritage learners: Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, other instructions and tasks for speaking and writing in the target language are given in both English and the target language. All other languages receive the other instructions and tasks in English.
The STAMP 4Se project was initially developed through a Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant to the state of Wyoming, which assembled a consortium with five states (South Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia). The Center for Applied Second Language Studies at the University of Oregon (CASLS) and the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, D.C., developed content for the assessments and piloted the tests in collaboration with elementary schools in the cooperating states.
As the exclusive licensee of STAMP 4Se, Avant takes its responsibility to the original design of the test very seriously. As a result, Avant has been very cautious in recommending the ways in which the test should be used. The original technical report prepared by the CASLS stated that the test was appropriate for students in grades 3 through 6. Avant STAMP 4Se Technical Document
A Need Identified
Many of our immersion school partners have stressed to us for several years the critical importance of obtaining data on the proficiency levels of grade 2 students. Grade 2 is when immersion students who are struggling often fall behind significantly and begin to separate from students who are more successful. Identified at the grade 2 stage, it is still possible to give focused instruction to students who are struggling and pull them up. Without identification at this stage it can be too late for the students, causing damage to the individual students and the program, which finds itself losing student numbers, due to some students' inability to progress with their cohort. For these and other reasons, many schools have asked us if we would recommend administering STAMP 4Se to grade 2 students.
Here is why Avant is now pleased to recommend STAMP 4Se for use in grade 2 through 6.
In the past four years of administering Avant STAMP 4Se, we have gathered substantial data from immersion programs around the country that have chosen to administer STAMP 4Se to grade 2 students. The data demonstrate that grade 2 students can be successful test-takers, particularly in the listening and speaking sections, and that the test does in fact provide meaningful data on students proficiency levels and growth. These sites have found that grade 2 is a great place to begin formal testing and to establish the baseline data they need to inform progress decisions and direct interventions if necessary.
One of the factors that made Avant hesitant to recommend the test in the past for grade 2 students was the difficulty for these young students to type - particularly in the character-based languages such as Chinese and Japanese. Avant has developed technology that it is launching for STAMP 4Se this year after beta testing, that allows students to hand write responses in these languages and have teachers upload them to Avant servers for our raters to score them.
We are very happy to be able to recommend that Avant STAMP 4Se be administered to students from grade 2 though 6 in all nine of our languages in programs that are seeking appropriate proficiency assessments for young learners. As always, we welcome input from your experience in administering STAMP 4Se and look forward to discussing these options and how this assessment can benefit your programs.
For more information click Avant STAMP 4Se.