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August 2011

Defense Language Institute English Language Center


Lackland Air Force Base, Texas

American Language Course Placement Test

HANDBOOK

PREFACE
This August 2011 edition of the Handbook for the American Language Course Placement Test (ALCPT) provides information and instructions for obtaining, administering, scoring, interpreting, and controlling the ALCPT. It supersedes the previously published Handbook for the American Language Course Placement Test (ALCPT), September 2009. There are currently 30 forms of the ALCPT available for purchase; new test forms are developed each year. Previously available ALCPT forms may still be used. If these exams have been kept secure and have been used solely for testing purposes, they should yield reliable English comprehension proficiency scores. Scores achieved on currently available ALCPTs (Forms 61100) do not require the use of a conversion table. Inquiries concerning this handbook, including requests for copies, should be addressed to: DLIELC/LESL 2235 Andrews Ave. Lackland Air Force Base, Texas 78236-5259 or E-Mail: dlielc.leslwork@us.af.mil Recommendations for improving this handbook are encouraged. Letters should be addressed to: DLIELC/LEAT 2230 Andrews Ave. Lackland Air Force Base, Texas 78236-5207 or E-Mail: DLI.Testing@us.af.mil

Supersedes September 2009 edition.


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HANDBOOK FOR THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE COURSE PLACEMENT TEST (ALCPT)


CONTENTS
PREFACE TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE i ii 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 4 5 6 6 6 6 6 7 9 9 9 9 10 11 11 11 11 12 12 13

CHAPTER 1 - DESCRIPTION OF TEST


A. PURPOSE B. SPECIFICATIONS AND FORMAT C. TEST KIT COMPONENTS

CHAPTER 2 - TEST SECURITY


A. B. C. D. APPOINTMENT OF TEST CONTROL OFFICER PHYSICAL CONTROL OF TEST MATERIALS PREVENTION OF TEST COMPROMISE PROCEDURE FOR LOST OR COMPROMISED ALCPTs TEST CONTROL OFFICER (TCO) MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD (MFR) ALCPT ADMINISTRATION LOG NUMBERING TEST BOOKLETS TESTING FACILITIES SELECTION OF TEST FORM ADMINISTRATIVE SECURITY GUIDANCE FOR THE TEST ADMINISTRATOR

CHAPTER 3 - DIRECTIONS FOR TEST ADMINISTRATION


A. B. C. D. E.

CHAPTER 4 - DIRECTIONS FOR SCORING


A. DOUBLE MARKS B. USING THE SCORING KEY C. SECURITY ALCPT ROSTER

CHAPTER 5 - PROGRAMMING FOR LANGUAGE TRAINING


A. USING ALCPT SCORES FOR PLACEMENT B. PLACEMENT AND PROGRAM SIZE C. OTHER USES OF ALCPT SCORES TABLE - GUIDELINES FOR PLACEMENT D. RELATIONSHIP OF THE ALCPT TO THE ECL

CHAPTER 6 - OBTAINING THE ALCPT


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CHAPTER 1 DESCRIPTION OF TEST

A. PURPOSE The American Language Course Placement Test (ALCPT) is a proficiency test of listening and reading comprehension in English. It can be used to place students in the American Language Course (ALC) and to screen students for readiness to take the English Comprehension Level (ECL) test. The ECL test is the official instrument used by the United States government to measure the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers who are candidates for US military training, and it is a strictly controlled assessment tool. Using the ALCPT to determine a candidates progress reduces exposure to the ECL and helps minimize the possibility of test compromise. B. SPECIFICATIONS AND FORMAT 1. There are 39 alternate forms of the ALCPT currently available: Forms 61 through 100. Each form is of approximately the same difficulty level, and each consists of a listening part and a reading part. Both parts of the test contain four-option multiple-choice items that test some aspects of grammar, vocabulary, and reading. All available ALCPT forms contain 100 questions. 2. Part I (66 items) of the ALCPT is presented aurally. The student listens to spoken English in the form of questions, statements, and dialogs on the test tape and selects the correct answer in the test booklet. Part II (34 questions) in the same booklet consists of reading items and is designed to test the ability of the student to understand written material. The student marks his or her answers (a, b, c, or d) for both parts of the test on a separate answer sheet. The student does not mark the test booklet, which permits reuse of the booklet and easier scoring. C. TEST KIT COMPONENTS Each of the forms of the ALCPT currently available may be bought separately. Each form is sold as a kit consisting of the following items: ITEM 1. Cassette Tapes * 2. Test Booklets 3. Scoring Keys 4. Handbook for the ALCPT 5. ALCPT Administration Log
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QUANTITY 2 25 2 1 1

* One audio compact disc (CD) is available in lieu of two cassettes.

CHAPTER 2 TEST SECURITY


A. APPOINTMENT OF TEST CONTROL OFFICER A Test Control Officer (TCO) and Alternate Test Control Officer(s) (ATCO) should be appointed at each facility which uses the ALCPT. (A sample Memorandum for Record [MFR] for appointing the test control officers can be found on the next page.) These authorized officials should control and administer the ALCPT. B. PHYSICAL CONTROL OF TEST MATERIALS All ALCPT components are controlled test items and must be handled accordingly. The validity of test results depends on proper control and security of these materials. Controlled items should be: 1. Stored in a locked cabinet when not in use. 2. Accounted for by serial number and inventoried at least annually by the TCO. 3. Logged each time they are used and the log retained at least one year. (A sample log can be found on page 4.) 4. Handled, transported, and administered only by authorized personnel. C. PREVENTION OF TEST COMPROMISE The most important consideration under the general topic of test security is test compromise. One of the easiest ways to compromise any test is through its inappropriate use. No ALCPT should be administered for practice or training purposes. The entire series of ALCPT forms can be quickly compromised through too frequent administration of the various forms. For overseas intensive English-language programs, the recommended frequency would be to administer one ALCPT to students upon class entry and another ALCPT upon class exit. If the intensive course is 6 or more months long, a mid-point ALCPT might be also administered. At overseas sites, the ALCPT can also be administered on a one-time basis to screen candidates for the ECL test, to evaluate the English language abilities of local personnel working for the military, to qualify for in-country positions requiring a designated level of English, etc. An effective, efficient approach is to develop and publish a schedule, e.g., the second Tuesday of each month, so candidates can register and arrange to sit for the exam. The test administrator can better track the test takers and the test forms used, and reduce multiple test administrations. For CONUS sites, such as MEPS stations or ROTC sites, testing should be consolidated as much as is feasible.
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D. PROCEDURE FOR LOST OR COMPROMISED ALCPTs The loss or compromise of the ALCPT or of any of its parts should be reported immediately to the TCO. The TCO should stop all testing at once and conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the problem. When any form of the ALCPT has been compromised, that form should be withdrawn and not used for a period of one year.

MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD


SUBJECT: Appointment of Test Control Officer (TCO) and Alternate Test Control Officer (ATCO) for the American Language Course Placement Test (ALCPT)

REF: Handbook for the American Language Course Placement Test (latest issue) 1. The following personnel are appointed subject duties IAW reference, effective _______________, and until officially relieved or released from appointment. Signatures below signify that the appointee has read and understood the Handbook for the American Language Course Placement Test and agrees to follow its provisions. ________________________________ TCO (print or type name) E-MAIL ADDRESS _______________________________________________ RANK and SERVICE (grade and title, if civilian) SIGNATURE

ATCO (print or type name) E-MAIL ADDRESS

RANK and SERVICE (grade and title, if civilian) SIGNATURE

ATCO (print or type name) E-MAIL ADDRESS

RANK and SERVICE (grade and title, if civilian) SIGNATURE

ATCO (print or type name) E-MAIL ADDRESS

_____ RANK and SERVICE (grade and title, if civilian) SIGNATURE

2. Appointments above supersede those of the previous TCO/ATCOs (provide names):

Signature of Appointing Official

________________________ Date ________________________ E-mail Address

Name/Rank/Title of Appointing Official (typed or printed) 4

DEFENSE LANGUAGE INSTITUTE ENGLISH LANGUAGE CENTER ALCPT TEST ADMINISTRATION LOG
OUT NAME OF TEST ADMINISTRATOR (TCO or ATCO Only)

PAGE NUMBER __ of __ IN NAME OF TEST ADMINISTRATOR (TCO or ATCO Only)

TEST FORM
e.g., 52

BOOKLET NUMBERS FROM TO

TAPE/CD NO.

ANSWER KEY NO.

CONVERSION

TABLE NO.*

NUMBER TESTED

TEST DATE

TIME CHECKED OUT

TIME CHECKED IN

* Previously available versions of the ALCPT (Forms 1R 35R) used conversion tables.

CHAPTER 3 DIRECTIONS FOR TEST ADMINISTRATION

A. NUMBERING TEST BOOKLETS Each new test booklet should be numbered upon receipt to help account for materials. B. TESTING FACILITIES The testing room should be well lighted, ventilated, and quiet. A sign with a warning such as "QUIET - TESTING IN PROGRESS" should be placed on the door and in nearby areas to keep noise at a minimum. Students should be positioned far enough from each other to ensure the integrity and validity of test results. C. SELECTION OF TEST FORM To minimize the possibility of test compromise, the TCO should use a different form of the ALCPT at each testing session, and the test forms should be alternated randomly. D. ADMINISTRATIVE SECURITY 1. Instructors must not become familiar with ALCPT test items, as doing so places instructors in the position of either teaching items they know to be on the test, or avoiding the subject matter entirely to prevent "teaching the test." Both of these situations may result in test bias and compromise. 2. The TCO is responsible for ensuring the proper administration of the ALCPT and may authorize other persons to be test administrators and proctors. Proctors should be available at a ratio of one for every 15 students. They should observe the students continuously during the testing period. No one other than the students and authorized testing personnel should be in the testing room during the test. When it is necessary, interpreters may serve to identify students and assist them with preliminary test directions; however, these interpreters must leave the room before the test begins. 3. Students should not bring anything into the testing room, and they should not leave until they have finished the test and returned all test materials. Students who leave the room before completing the test should not be permitted to return to the test room. They should be scheduled for retesting with another form of the ALCPT. The test administrator should brief all students on this requirement before the test begins.

4. The test administrator should issue to the student an answer sheet, two sharpened pencils, an eraser, and a test booklet. Test booklets should be checked before and after testing, to ensure that all pages are intact and that there are no extraneous marks. The test administrator should also check photo IDs and assign seats. Students should not be informed of seat assignments until they report to the test area. 5. When testing is completed, the administrator should collect all materials and check all booklets to make sure that all are accounted for and that examinees have not marked the pages. E. GUIDANCE FOR THE TEST ADMINISTRATOR 1. Steps to Take Before the Test Begins. The test administrator should: a. Prepare the answer sheets before giving them to the students, or have the students fill in the information just before beginning the test. b. Before the arrival of the students, make sure the tape or CD player is functioning correctly, and check to ensure the tape/audio CD can be heard by all examinees. A tape or CD other than that in the ALCPT kit should be used to conduct this sound check. c. Be careful not to erase a cassette tape when playing or rewinding. d. Instruct the students not to mark on or in the test booklet, and to mark only one answer for each question on the answer sheet. 2. Procedures for Administration of the ALCPT. a. At the start, the test administrator should say: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU ARE HERE TO TAKE AN AMERICAN LANGUAGE COURSE PLACEMENT TEST. DO NOT TALK OR COMMUNICATE IN ANY WAY DURING THE EXAMINATION. IF YOU MUST LEAVE THE ROOM BEFORE FINISHING THE TEST, I WILL PICK UP YOUR TEST MATERIALS, AND YOU WILL NOT BE PERMITTED TO RETURN TO THE ROOM TODAY. YOU WILL BE SCHEDULED FOR A RETEST AT A LATER DATE. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, RAISE YOUR HAND AND I WILL HELP YOU. I WILL PASS OUT THE ANSWER SHEETS NOW. DO YOUR BEST. b. At this time, only the answer sheets should be distributed to the students. (1) If the answer sheets have already been filled out, the test administrator should say: CHECK THE INFORMATION ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET TO BE SURE IT IS CORRECT. (2) If the students are to fill out their own answer sheets, the test administrator will instruct them on how to do so properly. The test administrator should prepare the exact wording of the instructions to ensure completeness of all needed student information. The test administrator should check for accuracy of the information.
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c. Each test booklet indicates the actual time limit for Parts I and II of the test. These times do not include the time required for giving instructions or passing out test material. It is important that the test administrator follow the time limits carefully. d. Before the booklets are distributed, the test administrator should say: I WILL NOW PASS OUT THE TEST BOOKLETS. WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE TEST BOOKLET, YOU SHOULD WRITE THE NUMBER OF THE TEST BOOKLET ON THE ANSWER SHEET. DO NOT OPEN THE BOOKLETS UNTIL YOU ARE TOLD TO DO SO. e. The test administrator should hand a test booklet to each student. After all the test booklets are passed out, the test administrator should say: THE TEST CONSISTS OF TWO PARTS: PART I - LISTENING AND PART II - READING. MARK ONE ANSWER, A, B, C, OR D, FOR EACH ITEM ON YOUR ANSWER SHEET. MAKE A HEAVY, DARK MARK ON THE LETTER. MAKE ONLY ONE MARK FOR EACH QUESTION. IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE OR AN EXTRA MARK, ERASE IT COMPLETELY. ANSWER EACH QUESTION, EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OF THE CORRECT ANSWER. DO NOT MARK THE TEST BOOKLET. MARK ONLY YOUR ANSWER SHEET. NOW OPEN THE TEST BOOKLET AND LISTEN TO THE DIRECTIONS. The test administrator then starts the ALCPT tape or CD. The test administrator should not stop it or replay any portion of it. It should be played only one time during the test. Repeating any portion of it will adversely affect the validity and reliability of the test results. f. The TCO or a test administrator should be in the testing room at all times during the test administration. The test administrator should not permit any talking during the examination and should listen and watch for any signs of attempted communication between students, such as pencil tapping or other movements. The test administrator should stop any suspicious behavior by standing quietly behind the suspected student. Students should work independently. g. At the end of the audio portion, the students will hear a voice say, THIS IS THE END OF THE LISTENING PART OF THE TEST. When Part I is finished, the test administrator should say: YOU MAY BEGIN PART II NOW. YOU WILL HAVE _____ MINUTES TO COMPLETE THE TEST. (See the front of test booklet for the time limit for Part II.) The test administrator will also post the exact completion time in writing: THE TEST ENDS AT _____. The test administrator may give the examinees a ten-minute warning and a one-minute warning before the end of the test. h. Students who finish the test early should raise their hands. The test administrator should collect each student's answer sheet, test booklet, and pencils, and should check the test booklet before the student leaves. The student should then leave the room quietly. i. When the allotted time has been completed, the test administrator should say: STOP! THE TEST IS OVER. PUT YOUR PENCILS DOWN. CLOSE THE TEST BOOKLETS. REMAIN IN YOUR PLACES UNTIL I HAVE COLLECTED ALL THE TEST MATERIALS. j. The test administrator should first collect all the test booklets and then all the answer sheets and pencils.
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CHAPTER 4 DIRECTIONS FOR SCORING

A. DOUBLE MARKS The test administrator should scan the answer sheets to see if any items have more than one letter marked. These items should be counted wrong. B. USING THE SCORING KEY 1. Each ALCPT Form has a unique scoring key. The test administrator should not mark the correct answers on completed answer sheets. Doing so will create additional answer keys and increase the potential for test compromise. 2. The test administrator should place the key over the student answer sheet, making sure that they are properly aligned, then count the number of correct responses and record the score on the answer sheet. C. SECURITY 1. The TCO should ensure that all answer sheets are scored in a secure area with no students present. 2. For record keeping purposes, the TCO may wish to maintain a roster for each test administration, to include such information as names of examinees, test form, date administered, and scores. A sample ALCPT Roster is shown on the next page. For test security, scored answer sheets that have already been logged should be destroyed by shredding or burning.

ALCPT ROSTER
TEST VERSION BOOKLET NO. DATE OF TEST RANK NAME (LAST, FIRST, MI)
ID NUMBER

RAW SCORE

CONVERTED SCORE *

DISPOSITION

* Previously available versions of the ALCPT (Forms 1R 35R) used conversion tables.

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CHAPTER 5 PROGRAMMING FOR LANGUAGE TRAINING IN THE ALC CURRICULUM

A. USING ALCPT SCORES FOR PLACEMENT Students can be placed at different levels in the ALC based on their ALCPT scores as well as other information, such as records of a student's language background and/or student interviews. This background data may be useful in determining if and for how long a student has previously studied English, as well as in providing a rough idea of the student's communicative ability in English. Such information is especially critical for students with low ALCPT scores. Since the ALCPT is a multiple-choice test, students can score up to 25 or 30 just from guessing answers. Scores in this range do not reliably measure a student's English proficiency. The table on the next page provides guidelines on using ALCPT scores to place students in appropriate levels of the ALC program. The table shows an acceptable range of ALCPT PLACEMENT SCORES for each of the ALC books. B. PLACEMENT AND PROGRAM SIZE Placement in a particular ALC program will depend somewhat on situations within that program. A training program that has 100 new students entering each week can have more classes and more precise placement than a program with only 50 new students each month. Where precise placement is required, the appropriate ALCPT range information for each ALC book (see table) may be helpful, or book quiz scores can be used. C. OTHER USES OF ALCPT SCORES 1. Monitoring Progress. The table also gives suggestions for monitoring progress through the ALC materials. Once students are placed, this chart can be used to check for satisfactory progress and appropriate subsequent placement. The table shows the expected ALCPT ADVANCEMENT SCORE for each ALC book. Book quiz scores can be used to indicate readiness for advancement to the next book; however, a passing book quiz score alone does not warrant continual advancement in the ALC. Care should be taken to ensure that ALCPT scores are high enough for advancement. Conversely, if a student's ALCPT score is consistently above the PLACEMENT SCORE range, the student may not be placed correctly. The program administrator may want to consider advancement to a higher-level book. 2. Graduation Requirement. The ALCPT score required for graduation from the ALC will depend on the English proficiency requirements of the training program each student is in, and the requirement may vary from student to student.

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GUIDELINES FOR PLACEMENT IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRAINING AND ADVANCEMENT IN THE ALC BOOKS, 1-34
ALCPT and ECL RANGE FOR: BOOK 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 PLACEMENT SCORE 0* 0* 0* 0* - 29 0* - 29 0* - 29 25 - 33 29 - 37 33 - 41 37 - 45 41 - 49 45 - 51 49 - 53 51 - 55 53 - 57 55 - 59 57 - 61 ADVANCEMENT SCORE 0* 0* 0* 0* 0* 25 29 33 37 41 45 49 51 53 55 57 59 BOOK 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 PLACEMENT SCORE 59 - 63 61 - 65 63 - 67 65 - 69 67 - 71 69 - 73 71 - 74 73 - 75 74 - 76 75 - 77 76 - 78 77 - 79 78 - 81 79 - 82 80 - 83 81 - 84 82 - 85 ADVANCEMENT SCORE 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 74 75 76 77 78 80 80+ 80+ 80+ 80+

* ALCPT and ECL scores of 29 or below cannot be considered valid indicators of a students proficiency. Students at this level should be placed in appropriate books based on instructor evaluation. D. RELATIONSHIP OF THE ALCPT TO THE ECL The content specifications (item types and formats, objectives, instructions, etc.) of the ECL and the ALCPT are, by design, consistent. The two tests are generated using the same computer program based on Item Response Theory (IRT), and they are statistically equivalent. When administered under secure, controlled conditions, the tests yield comparable scores. The correlation between uncompromised forms of the two tests is .95 or higher. Further information on the reliability of the ECL and ALCPT test-generating system can be found in the following article: Henning, G. (1994), Automated assembly of pre-equated language proficiency tests, Language Testing, 11 (1), 15-28.
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CHAPTER 6 OBTAINING THE ALCPT


A. DLIELC is the sole source for procurement for all ALC materials. Procedures for ordering the ALCPT are included in the current catalog of ALC materials. Information is provided on IMET programming and IMET requisitions, as well as on direct requisitioning from DLIELC and on FMS-funded purchases. All requests for purchase of ALCPT materials must be screened by the DLIELC Test & Measurement Branch. Organizations interested in purchasing the ALCPT should submit an ALCPT Request form found online at: http://dlielc.edu/Testing/ALCPT_reqfrm.pdf B. The catalog may be accessed on the DLIELC website, http://dlielc.edu/catalog/DLIELC%20Catalog_1.pdf, under Courses and Materials. To receive a hard copy of the catalog, contact the Logistics Branch (LESL) at DSN 473-4711 (FAX 473-3063), commercial 210-671-4711 (FAX 210-671-3063) or email: dlielc.lesl.work@us.af.mil.

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