Frequently asked questions about RVEAL

Can any EAL student undertake the assessment?

The assessments are designed for EAL students in Years 3 – 6 and Years 7 – 10. The assessments are not suitable for pre-literacy students.

Students need basic computer literacy as well as sufficient literacy skills to complete the assessment independently.

What are the skills assessed?

Each assessment consists of 50–60% reading and 40–50% vocabulary items across a range of text types (informative, imaginative and persuasive). All items were developed based on indicators described in the EAL Developmental Continuum P – 10.

Reading items assess decoding and comprehension skills as described in the Reading and Viewing mode of the Developmental Continuum. Vocabulary items assess both content words and structural vocabulary such as connectives (conjunctions and adverbs) and prepositions.

How long does it take to complete the assessment?

No time limit will be set, but a B Stage assessment is expected to take between 20 and 30 minutes to complete and an S Stage assessment is expected to take between 30 and 40 minutes.

What information does the teacher receive after the assessment?

Once the student has completed the assessment, teachers will receive the Proficiency Scale score and an indicative placement of the student against the stages of the EAL Continuum in the Reading and Viewing mode (B1 – B3 for primary students and S1 – S4 for secondary students).

Teachers will also receive information on the skills and knowledge assessed and an analysis of the results in terms of correct and incorrect responses. No information will be provided on individual items.

At the class or school level, teachers and the school leadership can obtain summary reports of the number and names of students at each stage of the EAL Continuum. The school can use this data to analyse the progress of their EAL cohort over time.

What is the EAL Reading and Vocabulary Proficiency Scale?

The EAL Reading and Vocabulary Proficiency Scale is a scale that has a range of 0–1000. Score bands on this scale correspond to stages of the EAL Continuum, from B1 – B3 for students in Years 3 – 6 and S1 to S4 for students in Years 7 – 10.

How should the Proficiency Scale score be interpreted?

The scale score indicates the placement of the student at a particular stage of the B or S Stages. However, a higher scale score within a particular stage does not necessarily mean a higher ability level within this stage. In other words, a higher score within B2 does not mean that the student is ‘at standard’; he or she may in fact be ’progressing towards’ or ‘beginning’ at this level. The distinctions within a stage are too fine to be captured using only the Reading and Vocabulary assessment. Such a judgement can only be made after considering the results of this assessment together with the student’s performance on other formal and informal assessments.

What types of items are included in the assessments?

Students may be presented with multiple choice, drag and drop to match, drag and drop to order/sequence and multiple response (tick two or more correct responses).

How often should students sit the assessment?

Students should undertake the assessment no more than twice a semester. It is recommended that teachers use the instrument as part of their diagnostic activities when initially assessing a student; however, other formal and informal assessment data in the other modes is required to make a complete assessment of a student’s language proficiency.

Development of the RVEAL assessment instrument

Overview

The Reading and Vocabulary assessment for EAL students (RVEAL) is designed to complement the existing assessments tools on this website.

The Tools to Enhance Assessment Literacy for EAL teachers (TEAL) resource centre is for teachers of primary and secondary English as an Additional Language (EAL) students in Australia. It brings together a range of tools and advice for the assessment and reporting of the English language proficiency and progress of students within an ‘assessment for learning’ framework.

Development and validation process

The assessment items were developed between 2013 and 2016 by a number of curriculum and assessment experts.

1,200 items were trialled by approximately 13,500 EAL students in Victoria in 2014 and 2015. The results of the trials were analysed by curriculum and psychometric experts in order to confirm the validity and reliability of all of the items.

The cut-off points between the B1 – B3 and S1 – S4 stages were translated onto a common scale, called the Reading and Vocabulary Proficiency Scale.

All B and S Stage items were ‘concurrently calibrated’, which enables students who move from primary to secondary school to be reported on the same scale.

Assessment design

RVEAL uses a multi-stage adaptive assessment design. This type of assessment uses modules, or collections of items, to determine student pathways through the assessment. Each module consists of groups of self-contained items which assess both reading and vocabulary skills.

Difficulty is adjusted and determined by a student’s performance in the previous module.

RVEAL multi-stage adaptive assessment design

Assessment principles and Item Response Theory

The RVEAL assessment tool is based on Vygotskian theory and assessment for learning principles. Psychometrically, it draws in the Rasch model of item response theory. All items developed for use in RVEAL were trialled and then analysed using these principles. The Rasch model reports items and student abilities using a logarithmic scale known as the logit scale. Logits can be both positive and negative in value. Each assessment item was designed with a particular logit value and a corresponding stage on the EAL Developmental Continuum P – 10.

However, because logits can be both positive and negative in value, reporting and interpretation of a student’s results can be difficult. The EAL Reading and Vocabulary Proficiency Scale translates these logit values to a positive whole number. This makes the scale more meaningful and facilitates their interpretation for teachers and school leaders.

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