Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Nation, Under CASAS

The US Flag flying over the CASAS Summer Institute at Town & County, San Diego

Greetings from the CASAS Summer Institute in San Diego. I attended a day-long workshop entitled "CASAS: Beyond Implementation for ELL/ESL". The workshop leaders talked about the relationship between CASAS Competencies (updated June 2008)and Basic Skill Content Standards for Reading and Listening.

Although the workshop focused mostly on ESL classrooms, the workshop information can be applied to Citizenship classes.

For example, when a Citizenship student takes the 973S (Citizenship Interview Test) and correctly responds to a question about their eligibility for Citizenship, they are demonstrating the CASAS Competency 5.3.6: interpret information or identify requirements for establishing residency or obtaining citizenship.

This Competency is further re-inforced when they take CASAS "Life and Work" tests (27R-187R) in which they identify various forms of ID from Social Security Numbers to Driver Licenses to Green Cards to a sign about Fingerprinting to a long narrative about voting (see sample tests).

Furthermore, the student is demonstrating the Basic Content Standards of interpreting simple (R4.6) and complex form (R4.7) and comprehending single-step instructions (L5.4).

Althought it wasn't discussed during the workshop, the CASAS Competencies and Basic Content Standards can be further strengthened if a school participates in CASAS EL Civics program, particularly COAPPS 40.6: Respond to questions about the history and government of the United States in order to be successful in the naturalization process. This COAPPS includes a mock Citizenship interview--a TREMENDOUS amount of work--but all the ESL students really benefit from interview preparation during which they must quickly master multiple language skills.

Although, it seems that the only thing more boring than taking a test is talking about a test, the information was quite interesting, especially the info about the new listening tests and etests (computerized tests)--no more bubbling, just click,click,click!

After the workshop, I wandered over to the Resource and Technology room. I was very impressed by the The CASAS resource QuickSearch lists more than 2000 print, audio, visual and computer-based instructional materials, and correlates them to the CASAS Competencies. I also reviewed the updated CASAS Bibliography of Citizenship Materials and took an CASAS etest. But I really got excited about the Reading for Citizenship Tests (951R/9512R,951RX/952RX) and will try to convince our school CASAS administrator to adopt these tests (see pg 28 in the CASAS Catalog).

I am really looking forward to Thursday when an USCIS officer from Laguna Niguel talks about the new 100Qs. If you have any questions, email uscitizenpod@gmail.com.

Final question: What does the acronym C.A.S.A.S. mean?

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