remote assessment of reading and writing skills

Hi all,

I'm not sure if this is a topic that has already been discussed, but I'm wondering if anyone knows of any tools that can be used for remote assessment of reading and math skills. I'm not thinking so much of our adult literacy classes. In New York State, the TABE test is the only allowed assessment, and that isn't available for remote assessment. I'm wondering about other programs (training, continuing education, IBest-style programs, etc.) that require an assessment to allow students to join. We're fielding inquiries from different programs that want to do work with students online, but don't know how to assessment. I think we can assume that the WIOA requirements for assessment options don't apply, so I'm wondering what else is out there. By the way, I don't think we can assume that a teacher would to be able to one-on-one assessment through Zoom or something like that. Most of the programs don't have a teacher doing the assessment, to my knowledge.

Thanks for your help,


Hi Eric,

I thought NY was using the TASC. Have they switched to, or added, the TABE?

 OCTAE has issued guidance here. I have copied Q 7. from that document below.

"Q7. What flexibilities will OCTAE allow in terms of assessment, as it relates to education practices? Will States be given the option to conduct virtual pre/post-assessment testing? OCTAE recognizes that local programs may not be able to conduct in-person testing of students enrolled in distance learning programs during program closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If local programs are unable to conduct in-person testing, States may be able to report measurable skill gains (MSG) using other measures available to AEFLA programs under the MSG indicator, such as credit completion or high school completion. The inability to test distance learning students may adversely impact the number of MSGs a State would report in the NRS. States that are experiencing declines in testing rates should put procedures in place to identify students who were not tested due to an inability to conduct in-person testing, so that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak can be appropriately tracked. Additionally, States may choose to develop procedures to implement virtual test proctoring. States that choose to use this flexibility must have procedures to ensure that (1) the student who is testing can be properly identified, (2) any approved test (i.e., any test determined suitable for use in the NRS) that is used is properly secured, and (3) the virtual proctor can properly administer the test. Test security measures would require that only secure electronic versions of a test are administered by a virtual proctor and are deemed secure by the test publisher."

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP {rpgram Management group

Hi David,

Yes, NYS used the TASC for high school equivalency, but adult ed programs use the TABE for assessment (intake, measurable skill gain). Thank you for the information on the federal guidance. This is helpful, but the question for us isn't about measurable skills gain. We understand that we're not going to going to show measurable skills gain for this period. The question we're getting is how to do placement for programs (maybe not funded by the federal government at all) that rely on minimum reading and math scores. Most of these programs in NYC have used the TABE to see whether people are eligible (for healthcare training programs, construction, etc.). In our adult basic ed programs, we are not doing formal assessment (and might not be doing intake at all during this period).


Hi all,

I'm guessing from the lack of a response that remote assessment of adult's reading and math skills doesn't exist. Or maybe this isn't an issue in other states. Is anyone else fielding this question? Since I've posted the original question, two more program managers have asked me about how this might be done. I want to reiterate that this isn't about proving measurable skill gain to funders; it's about placing students in the correct classes or training programs based on their skills.

If these assessments don't exist, is anyone working on this already? Even at a rudimentary, informal way? There are many tools that could be used to put together a quick assessment of math/reading. No need to recreate the wheel if others are doing it.


We are in a similar situation in Vermont where TABE scores dictate enrollment into our diploma program and graduation eligibility.  We also use TABE 11/12 for this.  We are still waiting for a directive from the Agency of Education as we have a "Stay-Home-Stay-Safe" order until May 15th at least.  It seems like there's very little noise about a remote option for TABE assessments, and, in my opinion, it's not in the best interest to do.  I was also looking to see what other states were experiencing?

Hello, everyone. In Arizona, we wanted a means for our local providers to serve new students in the absence of being able to administer TABE 11/12 Online or CLAS-E. While these resources cannot be used to establish entering EFL, the document found HERE was put together by our office to help local providers make determinations on instructional needs of incoming students. Instruction is only being provided virtually, and these resources are all online. Please note, Odysseyware and Burlington English are state-funded curricula, and we also fund a subscription to EdREady. 

Hi Eric,

Thanks for clarifying your question. I did a LINCS search for "online math assessment" and came up with one possibility for math, but the items may be at too high a level. Take a look. I also did a LINCS search for "online reading assessment" but without luck. Here are several other possibilities to explore:

1. Post a message to the LINCS Reading and Writing, and Math and Numeracy groups. Make it clear, if I have got it right, that you are looking for an online placement test, not for funding reporting purposes but to place students in the right level online classes.  You might also add that if this doesn't exist it might be helpful to have a list of test items by level from which to make such a test (again, if this is what you are thinking).

2. Do a Google and ERIC search for "online math assessment" and "online reading assessment"  If there are lots of them you could narrow your search by adding "adult"  and/or "diagnostic" before "online".

3. Try an existing free or proprietary online reading or math product. Many adult education teachers have liked the (free) Khan Academy. Perhaps it has a diagnostic assessment built in since it does have a management information system.

4. For reading, for learners whom you believe to have low level reading skills, perhaps you could use the Fry Oral Reading test. In a real-time online face-to-face meeting (perhaps using Zoom, or something else.) Leecy Wise wrote about using the Fry here."Fry Oral Reading Test, where learners simply start reading words. In that assessment, students read the underlined words aloud, and continue until they make five or more errors in a group of 25 words. This indicates a frustration level, and instruction should begin on the previous list. I've used this list successfully with adults. You can review a GUIDE to this practice with Fry word lists readily available on the Web." I don't know that tyhis has been done online with adults so you may be breaking ground if you do this.

5. Contact Mike Johnson at the DRC (you probably know that the Data Recognition Corporation is the developer of the TABE) to see what he might suggest.

If my suggestions indicate a misunderstanding of what you are trying to do, I hope they are helpful to you in clarifying your statement of the challenge(s) you are trying to address, for example if you post to the other two LINCS groups.

Anyone else have suggestions?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Program Management group


Hi Eric, 

I teach ABE in Colorado. I am today investigating the Essential Education software program. They have announced seat licenses of $7.63 / student for 60 days (ish - check out details) and I do not know costs for seat licenses after their COVID-19 sales period.  I am not the decision maker, but turned a very critical eye toward my investigation, and have been pretty impressed so far. TABE 11/12 correlated, with internal "locator" test. I have no reason to promote them particularly, but may be finding what I really need. Let me know if you want to talk about it further.  Best, Ann