Making the Most of the TABE®
The Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE), recognized as a reliable and valid measure of academic skills, can provide useful information across a wide range of settings: from small business and public services departments using the test for employment screening / qualification, to basic education programs serving teenage learners or adults of any age. TABE 9&10 tests multiple content areas, and has the flexibility to provide a general survey of content mastery, either for use in employment screening and qualification or for student placement and instruction.
In addition to testing content mastery, the TABE® provides detailed diagnostic information, including feedback on examinees’ general thinking skills. Examiners can also use two forms of the TABE to track student progress and report program gains.
- Employment Screening and Qualification
- Student Placement and Instruction
- Individualized Diagnostic Information
- Tracking and Reporting Student Progress
- Interpreting Test Scores for Success
Employment Screening and Qualification
TABE® not only has alternate forms (9&10), each form has an abbreviated Survey. The Survey is quick, accurate, and ideal for use as a reference for employment screening and qualification purposes. Employers in many businesses need to know if potential employees possess a certain foundation of basic knowledge and skills, both in terms of subject matter mastery and general thinking skills.
If employers can identify certain basic skills necessary for a given position, the TABE Survey offers a valuable way to help screen applicants. TABE was piloted across the country with thousands of adults in 46 states. Because the test is norm-referenced, it can accurately tell employers how applicants compare to other applicants and to the general population.
It is important to note that while the test provides useful information to assist in making hiring decisions, under no circumstances should such decisions be made solely on an applicant’s TABE scores – the TABE assesses basic skills knowledge, and makes no attempt to assess examinees’ ability perform a specific job role.
Not only can the test be used for employment screening and help in hiring decisions, it can be helpful in employers’ workforce training programs that include an element of basic skills training or continuing education. Using the diagnostic information the test provides tells which skills employees need to work on. For company employees who need a GED to be able to apply for a certain promotion or position, the TABE can tell them exactly what they need to learn before taking the GED.
Student Placement and Instruction
The TABE® is one of the most widely used assessments in adult basic education programs. The test reflects the latest developments in adult education, current standards for basic skills necessary to succeed in today’s classrooms and jobs, and the latest GED Tests.
The TABE tests across 4 core areas including Reading, Language, Mathematics Computation, and Applied Mathematics. When additional information is needed, examiners can also test in Spelling, Language Mechanics, and Vocabulary. For students at higher levels, preparing for the GED, the TABE offers assessments in Algebra/Geometry, Writing, Science and Social Studies.
Examiners can test students at five different levels, L, E, M, D, or A, each progressively more advanced. Level L tests examinees at the “Literacy” level, and Level A tests at the 9.0-12.9 content grade level range. For best results, the selected test level should approximate the student’s current functioning level, and be associated with instruction that corresponds to the same functioning range. The TABE also provides a brief Locator Test to assist in selecting the correct test level for each student.
Matching test difficulty with current functioning reduces test-anxiety and helps students to score at the top of their skill level, encouraging healthy attitudes towards learning and subsequent testing. This benefit of the TABE is important to basic skills education. Particularly with open entry/exit programs, it can help encourage students to complete the program and achieve learning goals.
Adult learners in basic skills education programs commonly have experienced consistent academic failure. Ongoing experience with academic failure often creates impatient and skeptical learners, whose potential to learn and progress is affected accordingly. Learners that have experience with such cycles of academic failure are usually quick to give up or “turn off.” Anticipating failure, they put forth minimal effort, and never recognize their potential to learn new things.
These learners need to experience rapid success and feel their progress. When struggling learners can visualize their progress and acknowledge their successes, they become more able to achieve learning goals quickly. Matching the test level to examinees’ current competency levels is the first step in to promoting the feeling of success. This feature of the TABE echoes the Pace Learning Systems approach to learning and teaching struggling learners, and our motto, “Nothing Teaches Like Success”™.
Given the wide variety of student needs present in adult education and workforce training programs, TABE results provide an ideal way for educators to individualize student placement in the proper classes and instruction for their needs. Providing an avenue to precise student placement is perhaps the most valuable benefit of the TABE tests. Accurate student placement is a key starting point to support success for struggling learners, and using the TABE ensures this proper placement. Using the more detailed diagnostic information the test provides enables educators to go a step further, and begin instruction at the precise break point of the student’s skills deficits, by identifying exact sub-skills that are presenting a barrier to further learning.
Individualized Diagnostic Information
To help ensure success, adult learners ideally require highly individualized courses of study. This requirement is due to the wide variety of learning needs and styles, motivation levels, and current functioning levels of students that make up many adult education classrooms. Using the Individual Diagnostic Profile (IDP) provided by the TABE® is an ideal way to help “prescribe” a personalized study schedule for an adult learner.
The IDP allows examiners to break down test results skill by skill. Identifying the precise points where students’ skills are lacking can serve as the starting point for writing personalized education plans, or outlining the student’s next course of instruction.
In addition to information on content mastery, the TABE 9&10 also provides a link to general thinking skills. By linking test items to a thinking skills framework, the TABE can provide insight into how well examinees are able to gather and process information, demonstrate critical thinking skills, reason clearly, and in general, solve problems. This information is invaluable to learning managers and hiring managers alike.
Using the Rankin-Hughes Framework of Thinking skills as the basis for classification, the TABE categorizes every test item by one of seven principal thinking skills. Core thinking skills used, which are identified by the Rankin-Hughes Framework, include: Focus, Gather Information, Organize Information, Analyze Information, Generate Ideas, Synthesize Elements, and Evaluate Outcomes. Complicated sequences of these core thinking skills make up eight major thinking processes that are central to learning in the classroom and achieving on the job.
Tracking and Reporting Student Progress
Each level of the TABE® has two forms, which allows for pre-and post-testing measures. The features of the TABE enable test administrators and instructors to easily track academic progress at both the individual and group levels, and stay on top of student and program performance.
The format of the TABE, and accessories like the Group Record Sheet and the Individual Diagnostic Profile, ease the process of record-keeping and reporting. The Individual Diagnostic Profile provides an individual test summary as well as a breakdown, so that learning managers can track students by test scores and by mastery of particular skills. The Group Record Sheet provides summaries of individual and group test data, and is a very useful tool for record-keeping and program reporting purposes. It can also serve as a classroom or group “snapshot,” which can be helpful in identifying class or group-level trends, and locating class performance issues.
TABE assessments are both criterion-referenced and norm-referenced, and offer easy-to-understand scores for tracking and comparing educational gain. Student scores are offered in multiple interpretations, including a TABE scale score which is calibrated and comparable across all test forms and levels. For each raw score and its associated scale score, the test also offers a grade equivalency, a percentile based on the norm group, a stanine (STAndard NINE) score, and a normal curve equivalent (NCE).
Interpreting Test Scores for Success
With TABE®, as with any standardized test, administration, collection, and documentation of score data all require appropriate, careful procedures to ensure good information. When the test is administered properly, and valid, useful scores can be obtained, the TABE provides several such scores derived from the raw number-correct score. In order to make use of TABE score data, examiners and teachers should be familiar with the different scores available, what they mean and don’t mean, and why and how they should be used.
In other words, equally as important as how you administer the test is how you interpret the results. This is particularly important in programs requiring accurate record-keeping and reporting of educational gain, where standardized tests are increasingly being used as a means of program performance evaluation. In some cases, funding resources and staffing decisions are influenced by achievement of program benchmark gains, as measured by standardized tests such as TABE. Additionally, students’ experience of success throughout a program is directly affected by their entry scores and the decisions that are made by these scores. To be sure, instructors with a comprehensive, dependable entry assessment and the ability to effectively use the information as a resource for instruction are at an advantage.