STAMP Test goes online
Sam Tapper – Managing Editor
For years, the World Language Department has utilized the services of the Standards-Based Measurement of Proficiency, more commonly known as the STAMP test, to measure proficiency among students in a foreign language.
Despite numerous rumors around the campus that the exam had been eliminated completely, the STAMP test remains available, albeit with changes to the delivery, according to World Language Department Chairperson Resha Cardone.
Normally, the STAMP test is a multi-use test offered on-site in language labs, however, due to COVID-19 policies, that is no longer able to happen, for now.
“We offer the STAMP test to any student on-campus who wants to wave the [world language liberal education] requirement, and these are students who are already proficient and they want to take the STAMP test so they don’t have to take a language class,” said Cardone. “So, when the pandemic happened and our campus closed down, we no longer were able to offer STAMP tests in our open lab because nobody was on campus.”
Normally, students who wish to test their proficiency in a foreign language and try and “test out” of the language requirement could go to the campus bookstore and purchase an access code, where they could then go to a language lab and take the test with a proctor.
Now, the STAMP test is entirely remote in an online format, still available for students who wish to wave the LEP requirement, just not on campus.
According to Cardone, the department is working to bring the test back to campus, adapting to COVID-19 safety protocols.
“Even though we’re back on campus, we have submitted a proposal to the administration to bring the on-campus version of the STAMP waiver test back to our open lab.” Cardone said, “but our proctoring plan has not yet been approved. So, that’s pending.”
Cardone said the test would “probably be coming back to campus” as soon as the administration approves the department’s proposal. The proposal, however, was submitted in early August and is still pending approval.
The STAMP test covers four areas: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Although students have returned to campus and are able to work in shared spaces with shared technology, headphones and microphones are required for the latter two portions of the exam, and shared use of headsets in a public lab is not currently conducive to health and safety guidelines.
“My assumption is that we’re going to be able to offer the STAMP test waiver exam [on-campus] sometime this semester, whenever the university finally approves the proposal,” said Cardone. “What our administration has told me about our proposal is that it’s not a real high priority for them because there is the alternative remote test that we can deliver to students.”
The alternative use for the STAMP test is where Cardone said she thinks the confusion on campus regarding the test is coming from, and that is as the final exam for all 200-level world language classes. The test will still be available for 200-level students who want to take it, but it will not count for any portion of the class.
For 200-level students, the test will be available in a “case by case” system, according to a statement included on all 200-level language course syllabi. The tests will not be administered class-wide.
Cardone said it is based on financials, as the remote version of the STAMP test costs “more than twice as much” as the test administered on-ground.
“Due to the pandemic, the World Languages and Literatures Department will not use the STAMP test as the final exam in 200-level language classes this semester as we have in past semesters,” the statement said. “If you are interested in taking the STAMP test, the Department will arrange for you to do so for free on a case by case basis.”
There have been numerous alternatives to the STAMP test that the department has looked into, and ultimately it is up to the professors to come up with a final exam to hold the place of the STAMP exam.
One of the new programs the department is experimenting with, although not an exam-based platform, is a program called Talk Abroad, a program that allows students to have full conversations with someone from another country who is fluent in the language being studied.
“[Working with Talk Abroad would] most definitely interest me,” said psychology major Larenzo Maldonado, a sophomore, who completed course work in Italian last semester. “I am a very listening-learner, so when you speak to me in a certain language, I can piece things together.”
While the introduction of Talk Abroad to the department is a new opportunity, for now it is temporary. Based on financials, having both the STAMP test and Talk Abroad as parts of the curriculum are not feasible, according to Cardone.
“Honestly, I manage our lab budget together with our language lab director, and the truth is that we couldn’t afford to do both things,” Cardone said, “unless we were to raise our fees. And I don’t see that members of our department are going to want to raise fees on students.”
As things currently stand in the department, everything surrounding the STAMP test as well as navigating alternatives is a wait-and-see scenario. Cardone said offering the STAMP test on-ground only during select semesters is among the realm of possibilities.
For now, the status of the STAMP test stands, as only an online-delivered exam that is no longer part of course curriculums for world languages.
“This is a temporary measurement we’ve put in place because of the pandemic,” said Lisa Vitale, an associate professor of Italian. “It wasn’t motivated by our curriculum, it was motivated by the outside parameters.”