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An Assessment of Selected Validity-Related Properties of a Shortened Version of the Secondary Level English Proficiency Test and Locally Developed Writing Tests in the LACCD Context ESL LACCD SLEP

Tillberg, Rebecca; Wilson, Kenneth M.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
English as a Second Language (ESL), Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), Placement Tests, Secondary Level English Proficiency Test (SLEP), Test Length, Test Use, Test Validity, Writing Tests


This is the report of a study that was undertaken to obtain direct empirical evidence regarding aspects of the validity and usefulness for ESL placement of (a) a shortened version of the Secondary Level English Proficiency (SLEP) Test, being used for ESL placement by colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), and (b) locally developed and scored writing tests. The LACCD Central Office provided scores on the shortened version of the SLEP and the writing samples, grades in ESL courses, and background data (gender, language, educational status, and so on) for over 10,000 students. This report documents and evaluates: (1) patterns of performance on the shortened SLEP and the writing tests in the general ESL population and in selected demographic subpopulations; (2) concurrent relationships among scores on the components of the LACCD placement battery; (3) observed levels of correlation between scores on the shortened SLEP test, the writing test, and the placement composite, on the one hand, and student performance in ESL courses, as indexed by grade earned (a grade on the "A-F" scale, or a Pass/Fail grade), on the other, by course and by college, and in various subgroups (e.g., gender, educational level, age, language); and (4) the extent to which observed relationships in placed samples are influenced by non-validity-related factors (for example, differential restriction of range on the tests that were used to place students, sample size, and type of grading system). The findings of this collaborative undertaking provide direct empirical evidence that the shortened SLEP and locally developed writing tests are providing valid information regarding related aspects of ESL proficiency in the demographically diverse ESL student population being served by the LACCD, and the findings logically extend available evidence supportive of the validity of the Secondary Level English Proficiency Test for ESL assessment purposes in the LACCD and elsewhere. Based on study findings, the local writing tests and the shortened SLEP appear to be providing an effective basis for placing students, within time constraints that appear to be considered necessary, from an administrative perspective. Research is needed to address questions regarding the extent to which use of the full-length version of the SLEP would enhance the overall validity of placement. Some pertinent lines of inquiry are suggested. (117pp.)

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