Student Placement: Students are placed into the program based on their performance in five tested measures: reading, listening, speaking, writing, and grammar. Three measures are taken into account for each core class placement: for Speaking and Listening, their listening and grammar score on WebCAPE (a computer adaptive test) and their performance on an oral interview with two instructors determine placement. For the Reading and Writing Core, their score on the reading and grammar section of WebCAPE, and their performance on a thirty-minute essay, are used to determine placement. Placement decisions operate on the principle that the productive skills of speaking and writing take primacy over the receptive skills of reading and listening. Should a student place more highly in reading than writing, the general rule is that writing will determine the level. The same applies to higher listening scores paired with lower speaking proficiency.
WebCAPE is an online, computer adaptive test of English that is used for determining proficiency in grammar, reading, and listening comprehension. A recommend scale for a six level program is provided by the WebCAPE Company.
Three or more teachers do a blind rating of each composition to determine placement level.
Students take an oral placement interview with two faculty members. One faculty member conducts the interview while the second member records responses.
At a general placement session, all instructors meet to consult the five test results and make a placement judgment.
Assessment devices and results are kept secure in the director’s office. Written prompts are cycled through six prompts (for six terms) so they do not repeat within a year.
Accurate placement is the key to a healthy program, and a positive learning experience for the student. Students must study at a level that is challenging, but not overwhelming, so accurate initial placement in crucial. During the first day of orientation, students are given an oral interview and a composition that will gauge their productive skills. A computer adaptive test (WebCAPE) is administered on the second day of orientation to determine their receptive skills: reading, grammar and listening. The WebCAPE, is proctored by one or more instructors, depending on the size of the testing group. The testing takes place in the language lab on the second floor of Patterson, which seats up to 18 students. The adjacent computer lab can be used for groups larger than 18. Students are logged into the WebCape site by the proctor, so advanced setup and planning is required. Once in, the student selects a skill area from a drop down menu and proceeds to take the test. Once finished, the student must remember to print the results. The proctor will collect the printouts, sort them alphabetically, and bring them to the placement meeting.
ACCESS recognizes the possibility that a student may test poorly on arrival due to factors such as health, jet-lag, etc. For this reason, instructors conduct additional diagnostics during the first two days of class to confirm the accuracy of the initial placement. At the first weekly staff meeting of the term, instructors who have concerns about their new students’ levels can recommend a movement. Students are advised of this process at orientation. When an instructor feels a students was misplaced, he/she should consult with the director and the instructor of the level the students would be moving to.