Language testing, Validity

Two schools of thought on test validity

AUTHOR: Kabelo Sebolai

Validity is probably the most crucial of all concepts that govern all kinds of measurement. This is more so the case in educational and psychological testing where high stakes decisions often need to be taken about individuals and institutions. From the time it saw the light of day, however, the concept of validity has been a source of inconclusive contestation.

Two schools of thought have arisen from this debate. In the main, the first of these, also known as the traditional view, regards validity as a property of a test while the second, also known as the unitary view, locates it in the way test scores are interpreted and used. This creates a challenge for test developers with regard to exactly what the object of test validation should be.

The aim of the article referenced below was to determine which of these views is defensible particularly for language testing. Using two studies focusing on the validity of two tests of language ability as the basis, the article demonstrates that the unitary view of validity is problematic for these tests as it leaves them susceptible to the possibility of being used for what they are not designed for.

fulltext_open_medium Sebolai, Kabelo. 2018. Revisiting the meaning of validity for language testing:  The case of two tests of English language ability  Journal for Language Teaching 52(1): 152-168. DOI: 10.4314/jlt.v52i1.8.

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Diversity, Language testing

The management of language diversity in educational settings

For language empowerment to take place in diverse environments, policy, planning, instruction and assessment all need to be aligned. Several NExLA members were recently involved in highlighting how language testing can contribute to achieving this harmony. The occasion? A workshop hosted by the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment (ULFE) of the University of the Free State, with the theme of  language diversity in educational settings.

Continue reading “The management of language diversity in educational settings”

Academic literacy, Language testing, Transformation

Transformation and transition: four perspectives from the south on academic literacy assessment in times of change

:LTRC 2018 Symposium

At the upcoming LTRC 2018 in Auckland, several NExLA members will be involved in one of six symposia featuring top scholars from around the world. Join us in Session 2 on the first day if you’re there!

Time: Wednesday 4 July; 1:30 – 3:30
Presenters: Albert Weideman (Chair); Alan Cliff, Kabelo Sebolai, Mehdi Riazi, Cassi Liardet, Laura Drennan, and John Read (Discussant)

While massification has affected universities globally, there are significant challenges for assessing and developing academic literacy at universities in the southern hemisphere. These may well have implications for other contexts. This symposium will highlight those challenges, not only in respect of prospective and new enrolments in universities, but also for the language demands of postgraduate study. At both levels, these demands call for appropriate assessments of language ability that are sensitive to the transformatory needs of both students and lecturers. They arise, furthermore, in a context of transition, where universities are changing specifically in respect of diversity in intake, and the subsequent challenge to provide relevant language support.

A common thread in all four papers is that of making assessment not only relevant to, but useful for planning instruction, and aligning the language instruction with language development.

This symposium will therefore focus on issues of assessing academic literacy before entry to university, or after enrolling for the first time, or again just prior to making the transition to postgraduate study. A common thread in all four papers is that of making assessment not only relevant to, but useful for planning instruction, and aligning the language instruction with language development. Continue reading “Transformation and transition: four perspectives from the south on academic literacy assessment in times of change”

Ethicality, ILTA Code of Ethics, Language testing

Comments invited on translation of ILTA Code of Ethics into Afrikaans

The Code of Ethics of the International Language Testing Association (ILTA) is a guide to language testers of how they should conduct their business in ways that are caring and compassionate, and at the same time deliberate and professional. It is complemented by locally formulated Codes of Practice. The Code of Ethics is already available in eleven languages.

A team of translators, Sanet Steyn and Gini Keyser, tasked by the Network of Expertise in Language Assessment (NExLA), has now completed the translation of the Code of Ethics into Afrikaans. Subsequent to their first draft, two other practising language testers, Colleen du Plessis and Albert Weideman, have, with the help of language policy specialist Theo du Plessis, produced another two drafts. The fourth draft of the Code is now ready to be presented to the language testing community at large, and is placed here for their comment: ILTA_Code_of_Ethics_in_Afrikaans (Draft). Continue reading “Comments invited on translation of ILTA Code of Ethics into Afrikaans”

Ethicality, Language testing

ILTA Code of Ethics to be translated into Afrikaans

Tineke Brunfaut, coordinator of a project of the International Language Testing Association (ILTA; http://www.iltaonline.com/) that aims to have the ILTA Code of ethics translated into more languages, has approached us to have it translated into Afrikaans. As its name says, the ILTA Code of Ethics is a set of principles that serves to guide good professional conduct in language testing and assessment. The Code has so far been translated into seven languages apart from English, and we are privileged to be able to assist in this. Continue reading “ILTA Code of Ethics to be translated into Afrikaans”