Challenge of Testing Numerous Students
Another change that became necessary was getting more people involved in testing students to determine which level they should be in. John holds a training session prior to the beginning of ESL in the fall. All teachers & volunteers are involved so that every student can be tested the first night of the new semester. Extra volunteers who do not feel called to work in ESL but who are willing to come help with the testing the first two or three sessions are enlisted. The Side by Side series, the curriculum we have used for a number of years, has both oral and written tests, which if given correctly, are fairly accurate in determining the level a student should be assigned to. The first night was never chaotic due to John's diligent organization, but over the years he has improved the process, working out the kinks so that testing goes smoothly, even though now there are more students to be tested the first night of each fall semester. As students arrive, they fill out enrollment sheets. We use ESL students from previous years to translate & help new students who know very little English fill out the forms. As each student finishes, a volunteer takes him or her to a classroom to test orally. Then he or she is taken to a large room, monitored by one or two volunteers to take the written part. (Students who are unable to read do not take this part.) We have a group of volunteers who grade the written section & tally the scores, and determine the level. Each student leaves at the end of the night with a schedule showing the level and the teacher. During the time students are waiting for their schedule, they have a brief orientation. Occasionally we discover students who are not in the correct level; sometimes students themselves will request to be moved to a different level, usually to a lower level where they feel more comfortable, but over all, the testing is accurate in determining the level for students.
We have open enrollment throughout both semesters. When students come for the first time that year, volunteers are available to give them oral and written tests. and they are taken to their classes and introduced to their teachers that night.
Youth and children are no longer tested. Up until 2014 they were included in classes with adults and were tested. When we began to have problems either because of disruptions or immaturity, we began separate classes for youth and children. Now they are grouped according to their age or grade level. The youth are ages 12-17, and the children are grouped into ages 5-6, 7-8, and 9-11. We also have some volunteers who help the paid nursery workers with the pre-school children.