The University of Costa Rica Will Evaluate English Proficiency of Students Who Complete High School

    Marking a milestone in all Latin America for this type of evaluation

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    The School of Modern Languages from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) will apply during 2021 a digital standardized test that will allow the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) to know the level of English proficiency of the final year high school students in all the country.

    The initiative will be implemented, for the second time, after a successful experience developed in 2019. That year, the MEP asked the UCR to create an evaluation that would generate evidence on the command of this foreign language, on the part of the students who complete secondary education.

    International standards

    The Standardized Language Proficiency Tests are developed based on international standards with the aim of evaluating the knowledge of a certain population regarding the command of a language, in this case, based on the Common European Framework of Foreign Languages.

    The experience accumulated by the School of Modern Languages in the development and application of this type of exams for 30 years, added to the work carried out since 2005 of a digital platform for the practice of English called Cyberlab, allowed it to assume the challenge posed.

    Committed to digital resources

    According to the director of the School of Modern Languages, Allen Quesada Pacheco, given the need to evaluate the entire population of the last year of secondary school in the country, indicated by the MEP, it was determined that the use of paper tests would generate high economic costs and it was committed to evolve to the digital resource.

    The academic unit finalized the creation of its first Standardized Language Proficiency Test in digital version and traveled to 1,200 different locations to apply the assessment to 65,000 final year high school students throughout the national territory.

    Reaching 100% of the population

    “The test was applied in public and private schools, both day and night, technical and bilingual, but we also reached prisons, hospitals and indigenous areas. We reach 100% of the country’s population, thanks to the structure of the UCR”, emphasized Quesada.

    The Institution developed three different formats for the application of the test, in order to guarantee that the evaluation was accessible both in remote locations lacking internet or with unstable connections, as well as in places with ideal conditions for digital communication.

    “Until 2019, the MEP did not know what situation students were in once they finished school, there was no evidence of language proficiency. We were able to give the MEP a reliable tool and data for decision-making”, emphasized the Profesor.

    A regional milestone

    Quesada stressed that the work carried out by the UCR marked a milestone in Latin America, as it is the first time that a standardized computer test has been applied that evaluates such a representative sample throughout the country.

    The success of the Costa Rican experience is already known in the rest of the continent and motivated countries such as Colombia, Panama and Nicaragua to request the UCR to develop consultancies and certifications in order to implement similar evaluation processes in their territories.

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