Each year, as part of Stanford's foreign language requirement, the Language Center administers an online Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview as part of their assessment program. Most first- and second-year language students are assessed each year and the results are reported directly to the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policies. This test is one of the highest stakes assessments that the Language Center implements and it requires a coordinated effort between Language Center staff and instructors, Language Lab personnel, learning management system support staff and network administrators, as well as VPTL imaging and hardware specialists.
Stanford's language requirement mandates that all undergraduates complete a one year of college level study of a foreign language. The Language Center is charged with fulfilling this requirement, which is addressed in its Annual Report, available at http://language.stanford.edu. A key part of this reporting is the annual exit assessment.
The Language Center has sought a centralized platform for two tests that are actually quite difficult to do using standard web technology, especially in a unified system: a simulated interview and a closed-book essay test. A simulated interview means that, like a real face-to-face interview, users should not be able to pause or repeat item prompts. It also means limiting or sometimes eliminating preparation time before a response, and allowing only one attempt at a response, even if that means that the user stumbles, repeats, or starts over. A closed-book essay test means that there are no outside resources available, much like sitting in a classroom writing in a blank blue test book. While a low-tech version of these testing formats meets security needs on the student side, it presents challenges when trying to ensure security in grading and returning completed work. It also goes without saying that turning the responses into data can be analyzed would be a significant undertaking.
In the spring of 2015, this High Stakes Testing system was implemented to deliver SOPIs to 735 students in 89 sections. Adding WPAs, the grand totals were 1296 students in 154 sections with 17 offline tests and 3 recoveries of online tests. There were no cases of any data loss in any of these tests. The system has performed flawlessly every year since, and we have added a limited set of placement tests before Fall quarter. Looking forward, it is possible that in many cases this system could replace the ubiquitous blue-book exam that happen at universities everywhere, bringing better information security and massive data analysis possibilities.
Unfortunately, Google has announced that support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS will end in June of 2021 (2022 for Education and Enterprise customers. The VPTL team is currently reviewing options to address Language Center assessment needs.