An investigation into the comparable effectiveness of two tests of writing administered to college-level English as a Second Language students: The Computerized Placement Test and holistically scored essay exams

Cynthia M Schuemann, Florida International University

Abstract

This dissertation describes the findings and implications of a correlational analysis. Scores earned on the Computerized Placement Test (CPT), sentence skills, were compared to essay scores of advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) students. As the CPT is designed for native speakers of English, it was hypothesized that it could be an invalid or unreliable instrument for non-native speakers. Florida community college students are mandated to take the CPT to determine preparedness, as are students at many other U.S. and Canadian colleges. If incoming students score low on the CPT, they may be required to take up to three semesters of remedial coursework. It is essential that scores earned by non-native speakers of English accurately reflect their ability level. They constitute a large and growing body of non-traditional students enrolled at community colleges.^ The study was conducted at Miami-Dade Community College, Wolfson Campus, fall 1997. Participants included 106 advanced ESL students who took both the CPT sentence skills test and wrote final essay exams. The essay exams were holistically scored by trained readers. Also, the participants took the Placement Articulation Software Service (PASS) exam, an alternative form of the CPT. Scores on the CPT and essays were compared by means of a Pearson product-moment correlation to validate the CPT. Scores on the CPT and the PASS exam were compared in the same manner to verify reliability. A percentage of appropriate placements was determined by comparing essay scores to CPT cutoff score ranges. Finally, the instruments were evaluated by means of independent-samples t-tests for performance differences between gender, age, and first language groups.^ The results indicate that the CPT sentence skills test is a valid and reliable placement instrument for advanced- level ESL students who intend to pursue community college degrees. The correlations demonstrated a substantial relationship between CPT and essay scores and a marked relationship between CPT and PASS scores. Appropriate placements were made in 86% of the cases. Furthermore, the CPT was found to discriminate equally among the gender, age, and first language groups included in this study. ^

Subject Area

Education, Community College|Education, Language and Literature|Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Technology of

Recommended Citation

Schuemann, Cynthia M, "An investigation into the comparable effectiveness of two tests of writing administered to college-level English as a Second Language students: The Computerized Placement Test and holistically scored essay exams" (1998). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9903434.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI9903434

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