Avant Newsletter – October 2020
IN THIS EDITION:
Adaptive Test Technology
Supporting Early Language Learners
A MESSAGE FROM AVANT’S CEO, DAVID BONG
We continue to push forward at Avant. In the challenges we face, we can see opportunities to improve our products and services. I want to take this chance to update you on some of these improvements.
Update on Remote Proctoring
Due to the COVID crisis many students have had to attend classes, study, and take tests online. Developing a secure, affordable, and user-friendly Remote Proctoring solution is essential for any test that is used to collect meaningful data, whether it is to measure proficiency growth in a language program, award credit by exam, or award a State or Global Seal of Biliteracy. We believe that a live, impartial human proctor is essential to protecting the integrity of the test and the meaning of test scores. We also believe that parent proctoring is unacceptable because it introduces the possibility of cheating and can introduce inequity. Avant also recognizes that Artificial Intelligence that can identify possible infractions is important in supporting the effectiveness of the human proctor. That is why in the spring we introduced a proctoring solution that combines live human & AI proctoring. We felt that live human proctoring was so important that we were willing to bear the high costs to Avant and offer it at a substantial discount to our customers.
To further improve the solution we provided in the spring, we are currently developing a new system that will enable secure testing with a live human conducting remote proctoring. This solution will be more user-friendly, affordable, and Chromebooks compatible. We will be releasing information on this solution through the coming weeks. Please stay tuned for updates from Avant, or contact your account manager directly or through email@example.com.
Introducing Avant on Clever
We are grateful that many of the largest school districts in the country have become Avant customers in the past few years. In order to smoothly integrate our test data with these districts’ student information systems and enable large scale rostering, Avant has partnered with Clever and was recently certified as a Clever Partner. Please let your Avant Account Manager know if you are interested in working with Avant to use Clever for single sign on and automated rostering. Here is Avant’s listing on the Clever website: https://clever.com/app-gallery/avant-assessment
Why Adaptive Test Design Matters
A teacher’s comment reminded me recently of the power of adaptive testing technology and I thought I would share with you why Avant uses this technology and not older, fixed-form test designs that some other companies utilize in their language tests. Avant uses a computer algorithm to adjust the level of STAMP questions in the Reading and Listening sections to the test taker’s level. This means that almost every one of the 30 questions in a STAMP Reading or Listening section is close in difficulty to the proficiency level of the test taker, allowing both a better test taking experience for test takers and a more reliable test. Because of this, the great majority of questions on STAMP provide meaningful data that allows the algorithm to home in on the proficiency level of the test taker and generate an accurate score. In a fixed-form test everyone gets the same questions that are spread across the full range of proficiency levels being tested. This means that most of the questions are either too easy or too hard for the individual test taker, therefore providing less substantial data about the test taker’s proficiency level than in an adaptive test. The result is that a fixed-form test delivers a proficiency level score that is based on much less targeted data than in the STAMP adaptive test. That is why we are confident that adaptive testing delivers more accurate scores across a wide range of levels than a fixed-form test. So, you may ask yourself then, why doesn’t everyone use an adaptive test? It is because the technology is difficult to build, the tests are challenging to construct, and both the technology and the tests are expensive to maintain. Our Director of Assessment and Research, Dr. Victor Santos wrote a white paper on the development of STAMP that will describe to you how Avant develops and researches the quality of our STAMP tests. The Development of a STAMP Test: Support for Test Validity. I will cover additional advantages of adaptive testing in upcoming newsletters or you can look at Avant’s blog at https://avantassessment.com/blog-archive/2016/fixed-form-vs-adaptive-test-design-in-language-proficiency-testing
Avant’s Dr. Victor Santos Supporting Young Language Learners
Avant encourages both the professional and personal efforts of its team members to support language learning. Victor Santos, who I mentioned above, has a wonderful hobby that supports language learning for children in many languages. This spring he wrote and released a new series of children’s books that celebrate the value of speaking more than one language and appreciating different cultures, called Little Polyglot Adventures. Book 1 in the series, Dylan’s Birthday Present, is the story of a multilingual, multicultural boy with a bilingual best friend who gets a very unusual present for his birthday and must use his multilingual skills to solve a mystery. This month Victor released book II in the series, A Wild Day at the Zoo. The multi-award-winning books are available in many languages, including many less-commonly-taught-languages such as Hawaiian and Yup’ik. Please go to https://www.linguacious.net/ for more information about the great books and flashcards Victor produces.
Thank you all for the hard work you put in every day to educate our children. We all hope and pray for an early end to the COVID crisis.