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News and Notes

A newsletter for CASAS National Consortium members, Certified Trainers, and Trainers-in-Progress

Fall 2007

 

Welcome

Welcome to the fifth issue of CASAS News and Notes, a newsletter for National Consortium members, CASAS certified trainers, and trainers-in-progress.

This newsletter keeps you informed of new CASAS training materials and new CASAS assessments as well as provides you with valuable training tips and resources. We encourage you to contact us with any suggestions or topics.

National Consortium and Certified Trainer meeting at the 2007 Institute

The National Consortium and Certified Trainer meeting is always a highlight of the Summer Institute. We were happy to see so many of you at the meeting! You are each such an integral part of CASAS, and we thank every one of you for your hard work and dedication. The discussion this year ranged from new assessments to information on new training materials to discussion on new policy and state plans.

We were pleased to meet all the new trainers-in-progress who attended the Monday morning meeting. Participants came from a number of states across the country, and we look forward to supporting you as you work toward your state-level trainer certification.

If you were not able to attend the National Consortium and Certified Trainer meeting during the Institute, log in to the CASAS National Consortium Virtual Community and download copies of the materials distributed during the meeting. You may also download the meeting minutes.

We distributed a thumb drive that contained training packets, training forms, and marketing materials. To request a copy of the materials contained on the thumb drive, please send an e-mail to Andrea Dolney at adolney@casas.org.

2008 CASAS National Summer Institute

Please mark your calendars! The 2008 CASAS National Summer Institute is June 17-19, 2008 at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego. The National Consortium and Certified Trainer meetings will be on Monday, June 16. We hope to see you there!

New CASAS Assessments and Resources

CASAS continually develops new assessments and resources to fit your agency and program needs. For more information on any of these new assessments and resources, visit the CASAS Web site at www.casas.org, download the Resource Catalog, or e-mail us at training@casas.org. Keep your eyes peeled for even more new assessments in the upcoming year!

CASAS Teacher's Handbook - A new teacher's handbook is currently in development. The handbook will cover a variety of topics including integrating Content Standards and Competencies for instruction, understanding and using test results, choosing and using appropriate text materials, sample lesson plans, test taking strategies, and test administration. We will keep you posted on the progress of this resource.

Revalidated CASAS Competencies - The CASAS Competencies are undergoing some changes! Based on broad feedback from the field new competency areas will be added to meet emerging learner needs. New competency areas include education, health and medical information, financial literacy, media literacy, and technology. We expect to roll out new competencies in early 2008.

Life and Work (LW) Series –A new Life and Work Listening series is currently in development (see field-testing below). The new listening series will be different from other listening tests because there will be no reading included and the audio prompts will contain more natural speech such as no repetition at the High B and Low C levels. The new Life and Work Listening series will be available in 2008.

The Life and Work Math series is under development.

CASAS eTest The new CASAS eTests includes both computer adaptive testing (CAT) and computer based testing (CBT) in one flexible system. CASAS eTests includes Life and Work Reading pre-and post-test forms, and ECS and WLS Appraisals and Reading and Math pre-and post-test forms. A pilot of the latest version that includes Listening tests (50 series forms) is underway. CASAS eTests can be deployed on stand alone computers, in a local area network, or on a central or master server. CASAS eTests features a replication option which facilitates data storage at a central site.

Special Needs Assessments - A new POWER test (Form 307 Advanced Independent Living for Corrections) is now available. All Adult Life Skills tests are now in color; a new color appraisal will be available in 2008. An introductory copy of the new Life and Work Reading assessment in Braille format is now available! The Braille test form available is for CASAS Skill Levels A - B.

National External Diploma Program (NEDP) - CASAS acquired NEDP in July 2006. NEDP is a competency and performance-based high school completion assessment program for adults. A NEDP competency revalidation process is underway and the assessments are being redesigned to reflect more rigorous high school graduation requirements, including an increased emphasis on technology. Maryland, New York, and Connecticut are assisting in the redesign of the assessments and serving as pilot states. Selected CASAS tests can be used to predict readiness for and success in the NEDP. For more information, visit www.nedp.org.

Workforce Skills Certification System (WSCS) –WSCS is a partnership of two nationally recognized and validated skill measurement systems: CASAS – applied academic skills, and LRI – applied soft skills. WSCS meets local labor market needs by helping employers identify skill levels required for jobs and documenting job candidates skill attainment levels. Job candidates can earn a certificate, a certificate+, or a transcript. To learn more about how WSCS benefits employers, job candidates, and training programs visit the Workforce Skills Certification portion of the CASAS Web site.

Sample Test Items for Classroom Use Sample test items are available to help familiarize students with CASAS reading and listening items and give students practice in taking a CASAS reading or listening test. They contain typical items students will encounter in the Life and Work Reading Series, levels A, B, and C (Forms 81-186) and the Life Skills Listening Series, levels A, B, and C (Forms 51-56). Practicing with these sample test items should make future testing go more smoothly and may help reduce student test-taking anxiety. Download the sample test items now!

TOPSpro Enterprise TOPS Enterprise will be rolling out July 2008. TOPS Enterprise features multiple deployments, powerful data grids, enhanced reporting, and is SIF compliant.

Field-testing Opportunities

Life and Work Listening Series
CASAS is updating the way that listening skills are assessed through the development of a new Life and Work Listening series. The new series is based on the most current research in listening assessment, recommendations from national experts in this field, and an extensive review of listening item types and test design options appropriate for adult English Language Learners. The language in this new series is drawn more from natural speech found in everyday conversational exchanges, such as reduced forms and informal stress and intonation patterns. A major change in the new series is that items will be heard only, with no reading of possible responses in a test booklet, except at Level A in which students choose among line-drawn pictures. This will provide a more accurate measure of students’ listening skills. Based on feedback from the field during field test trials last year, CASAS has adjusted when examinees hear a repetition of the test questions and possible answers: at Levels A and most of Level B all test questions and responses are repeated; at Level C, there is no repetition.

These changes have been successfully piloted at all levels of adult ESL this past year, with positive responses from students and teachers. We encourage agencies with various levels of adult ESL students to field-test the new listening item types this fall so that CASAS can complete the series by spring 2008. Agencies that choose to field-test can commit to as little as one hour of time. Field-testing provides an opportunity to preview these new listening test items. It also helps build the test-taking confidence of students, provides instructors with opportunities for informal evaluation of their students’ work, and gives coordinators, teachers, and agencies the opportunity to provide valuable contributions to the test development process at CASAS. As a token of appreciation, CASAS is offering participating agencies a Staples or Barnes and Noble gift card for $2.00 for each completed answer sheet returned to CASAS within a three-week time frame, with a minimum of twenty-five answer sheets per agency. If your class or agency is interested in participating in field-testing, contact Chaitra Ramanathan at cramanathan@casas.org or 1-800-255-1036 x143.

Braille Field Test Continues with Introductory Release
Even though CASAS is releasing the first L&W Reading test in Braille format this fall, CASAS is requesting return of answer sheets and additional field-testing for a research study continuing through 2009. Please inform the field of the availability of this first Braille test and request for continued field-testing. Adult student participants who are blind or visually impaired are needed from secondary diploma, adult education and community-based programs. Students functioning at CASAS skill levels A through D may participate in field-testing.

The development of the Braille reading items involved extensive field review and feedback. Preliminary feedback results from the initial phase of field-testing indicate the test items reflect realistic daily life and work scenarios of persons who are blind.

Frequent breaks and extended time are allowable testing accommodations and visually impaired teachers may receive the administrative directions electronically. The test consists of twenty-five multiple-choice questions.

CASAS provides participating agencies with Braille field-test booklets, Braille answer sheets and special marking stickers, test administration directions, and a pre-paid UPS label to return all field-test materials to CASAS. To sign up or to request more information, please e-mail your contact information to Dr. Virginia Posey at gposey@casas.org or power@casas.org.

Workforce Learning Systems Reading and Math Series
CASAS is inviting agencies to field-test new workplace related reading and math test items. Each test item has been written based on actual worksite materials. The requirements to participate in the field test are listed below. Agency commits to:

  • One hour of class time
  • Testing between January and May 2008

Students should:

  • Be scoring at CASAS C or D Levels (advanced ABE/ASE or ESL/ELL classes, community college development classes, vocational training…)
  • Have had some work experience or be preparing to go to work

Benefits of field-testing:

  • Provides students excellent test-taking practice. This will help them as they prepare to take the GED, other work-related assessment, or postsecondary entrance exams.
  • Provides staff an opportunity to be a part of a national research effort. Join thousands of other teachers and programs who have been a part of this test development process for twenty-five years.
  • Provides CASAS with valuable data and feedback to help create new test forms that will help learners meet their employment goals. 
  • If your agency returns a minimum of twenty-five usable field test answer sheets to CASAS, your agency will receive a Staples or Barnes and Noble gift card for $2.00 for each completed answer sheet returned to CASAS within a three-week time frame.

For more information or to sign up, contact Chaitra Ramanathan at cramanathan@casas.org or at 1-800-255-1036 x143.

CASAS Quarterly Report Newsletter Is Now the CASAS Connection

The CASAS Quarterly Report newsletter has become the CASAS Connection! A new look and practical case studies make the CASAS Connection an exciting news source. View the most current edition at www.casas.org.

The CASAS Connection team is always looking to cover stories about how agencies use CASAS assessments and resources in their programs. Readers tell us they enjoy learning which tests and resources other agencies use and how assessment results help improve the learning experience for students.

Please e-mail the editor, Carol Farrell, at cfarrell@casas.org if you know of an agency in your state that would be willing to share its experiences with Connection readers. Carol will call the agency, do a short over-the-phone interview, and write the article. This is an opportunity to share the good things that are happening at local agencies in your state with your colleagues.

 

Congratulations New Certified Trainers!

We are pleased to announce several new state-level certified CASAS trainers this year! We welcome Julie Pierce and Suzanne McCurdy in Minnesota, Patty Long in California, Connie Davis in Colorado, and Julia Johnson and Oralyn Bevineau in Washington, DC. They are all certified to train WIA Title II agencies. Val DeVuyst, a state-level trainer in Maine, and is now certified to train both WIA Title I and II agencies there. Congratulations to all of you!

 

Training Tips and Tidbits

There are new Educational Functioning Level reporting requirements for WIA Title I programs. Youth funded programs now have a third option for “Category of Assessment” that will allow states to choose both Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English As a Second Language (ESL). This allows the assessment of reading, math, and listening skills. Click here for more information.

Please remember that we need the following completed paperwork for every training:

  • Presentation Report
  • Sign-in Sheet (There is a new sign-in sheet for training available. The new form is much more streamlined and easier to read. Download the new form here.)
  • Training Evaluation forms
  • Training Verification forms (There is an updated Training Verification form available. Download the new form here.)

As you complete a step toward certified trainer status (such as observing a training, completing a training observation form, receive recommendations, etc), please update your facilitator and trainer classifications form and return to CASAS. You may fax, mail, or email (training@casas.org) your updated form. This will help us keep your files updated.

We want to make sure we have the most current information! Does your state have a person in charge of coordinating CASAS training? Do different people coordinate WIA Title I and II training? If so, please e-mail us at training@casas.org with name(s) and contact information.

Contact Us

To contact us:

CASAS Professional Development Department
5151 Murphy Canyon Road, Suite 220
San Diego, CA 92123
1-800-255-1036
FAX: 858-292-2910
training@casas.org

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Visit our Web site at www.casas.org.

 

 

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