The development and validation of an institutional reading placement test
The Intensive English and Orientation Program (IEOP) at Iowa State University (ISU) was started in 1966. The program, which teaches spoken and written American English, is managed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Four courses are offered in the IEOP program: grammar, writing, reading development, and communication skills. Within each course, there are five or six levels of instruction, from a novice level to an advanced level. All students entering IEOP are required to take a placement test at the beginning of the session in which they are enrolled. The test is administered to determine each student's appropriate level of proficiency in five skill areas: listening, grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. The results of the test are used to place students into homogeneous classes at their appropriate ability level. This method of grouping students helps make teaching more efficient and learning more effective since students who are grouped in homogeneous ability levels can be taught similar language or learning points (Brown, I 990). A similar test is given to all IEOP students at the end of each session. There are five sessions per year: two in the spring, one during the summer, and two in the fall. Each session has eight weeks of instruction. The scores obtained from the placement test administered at the end of a session, together with the individual instructor's class assessment of each student, help to guide placement decisions for the following session for continuing students.