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Indra U.

A121 16 028
Class A
Resume of English language Learning Assessment


A. Key Terms in Language Assessment

1. Test and Testing
Test: A method to determine a student’s ability to complete certain
tasks or demonstrate mastery of a skill or knowledge of content. Some
types would be multiple choice tests, or a weekly spelling test. While it is
commonly used interchangeably with assessment, or even evaluation, it
can be distinguished by the fact that a test is one form on of assessment.
2. Measurement
Beyond its general definition, refers to the set of procedures and the
principles for how to use the procedures in educational tests and
assessment. Some of the basic principles of measurement in educational
evaluations would be raw scores, precentileranks, derived scores, standard
scores, etc.
3. Evaluation
Procedures used to determine whether the subject (i.e. student) meets
pretest criteria, such as qualifying for special education services. This uses
assessment (remember that an assessment may be a test) to make a
determination of qualification in accordance with a predetermined criteria.
4. Assessment
The process of gathering information to monitor progress and make
educational decisions. If necessary. As noted in my definition of test, an
assessment may include a test, but also includes methods such as
observations, interviews, behavior monitoring, etc.
B. Reasons For Assessment
1. Finding out about progress
The type of test we give will depend very much on our purpose in
testing. There are many reasons for giving a test, of course, and we should
always ask ourselves about the real purpose of the test which we are giving
to our students. Perhaps the most important reason is to find out how well
the students have mastered the language areas and skill which have just
been taught. These tests look back at what students have achieved and are
called progress tests.
2. Encouraging Sstudents
A classroom test can help to show students the progress which they
are undoubtedly making. It can serve to show them each set of goal which
they have reached on their way to fluency. Indeed, such a test would be
used for the purpose of increasing motivation, yielding good results
similar to those shown in the previous section. Most people like the things
they are good at – or, possibly they are usually good at the things which
they like.
3. Finding Out about Learning Difficulties
A good diagnostic test helps us to check our students’ progress for
specific weaknesses and problems they may have encountered. In order to
find out what these weaknesses are, we must be systematic when we
design our test. In short, we should know exactly why we are testing. We
do not usually want to assess the student’s ability to handle everything in
the syllabus. This would be far too ambitious and in any case would deter
the student. We must select areas where we think there are likely to be
problems or weaknesses.
Certain kinds of tests are not as suitable diagnostic as others. For
example, it is more difficult to use a skills test such as reading test or test
of free writing to determine problem areas in systematic way – although it
must be emphasized that such tests can be used for diagnostic purposes.
Certain tests of grammar and pronunciation, on the other hand, are
reasonably straight forward for being used in diagnosing students’
difficulties. Usually a diagnostic test forms part of another type of test,
especially a classroom progress test. As such, it is useful to regard
diagnostic testing as an ongoing part of the teaching and testing process..
4. Finding Out about Achievement
Most people associate testing with achievement or attainment tests.
Unfortunately, too many people think these tests are the chief – or only –
type of test. This is not the case. Unfortunately, the use of achievement
tests sometimes demonstrates a more negative (but essential) side of
testing. In certain ways an achievement test is also like a progress test but
it is usually designed to cover a longer period of learning than a progress
test. Unlike progress tests, achievement tests should attempt to cover as
much of the syllabus as possible. If we confine our test to only part of the
syllabus, the contents of the test will not reflect all that has been learned.
An achievement test is usually a formal examination given at the end of
the school year or at the end of the course. Often it takes the form of an
external test which is set by an examining body such as the University of
Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate and TOEFL.
5. Placing Students
A placement test enables us to sort students into groups according to
their language ability at the beginning of a course. Such a test should be as
general as possible and should concentrate on testing a wide and
representative range of ability in English. It should thus avoid
concentrating on narrow areas of language and specific skills.
Consequently, questions measuring general language ability can form a
useful part of placement test. These questions often consist of blank-filling
items and tests of dictation. Such questions, however, should make up only
one part of a placement test. The most important part of the test should
consist of questions directly concerned with the specific language skills
which students will require on their course.
Placement test should try to spread out the students’ score as much as
possible. In this way, it is possible to divide students into several groups
according to their various ability levels.
6. Selecting Students
A selection test is necessary when there are far more candidates than
the number of jobs or places which are available. The purpose of the test,
therefore, is to compare the performances of all the candidates and select
only the best. In such a situation we are interested not so much in how well
candidates can use English but in how much better than the other
candidates they are. Thus a very good candidate may not be selected
simply because there are even better candidates who have taken the same
7. Finding out about Proficiency
We use proficiency tests to measure how suitable candidates will
be for performing a certain task or following a specific course. For
example, the British Council administers a proficiency test to overseas
students intending to study in universities and polytechnics in Britain. This
test has different parts which candidates can choose to do according to
their different purposes. In proficiency test we are not concerned with
comparing the abilities of the various candidates. We want to find out only
the degree of success someone may have in doing something. Thus a
proficiency test is primarily a criterion-referenced test as opposed to a
norm-referenced test.

A. Validity
A good test should be valid or accurate. Some experts have defined the term
of validity. Heaton (1975: 153), for example, states that the validity of a test is the
extent to which it measures what it is supposed to measure. Bachman (1990: 236)
also mentions that in examining validity, the relationship between test
performance and other types of performance in other contexts is considered.
Brown (2004: 22) defines validity as the extent to which inferences made from
assessment results are appropriate, meaningful, and useful in terms of the purpose
of the assessment. Similarly, Gronlund and Waugh (2009: 46) state that validity is
concerned with the interpretation and use of assessment results. From these
definitions, it can be inferred that when a test is valid, it can elicit students’ certain
abilities as it is intended to. The valid test can also measure what it is supposed to
B. Reliability
Reliability refers to consistency and dependability. A same test delivered to a
same student across time administration must yield same results. If a test takes a
long time to do, it may affect the test takers performance such as fatigue,
confusion, or exhaustion. Some test takers do not perform well in the timed test.
Test instruction must be clear for all of test takers since they are affected by
mental pressures.
C. Practicality
Validity and reliability are not enough to build a test. Instead, the test should
be practical across time, cost, and energy. Dealing with time and energy, tests
should be efficient in terms of making, doing, and evaluating. Then, the tests must
be affordable. It is quite useless if a valid and reliable test cannot be done in
remote areas because it requires an inexpensive computer to do it (Heaton, 1975:
158-159; Weir, 1990: 34-35; Brown, 2004: 19-20).
D. Authenticity
A test must be authentic. Bachman and Palmer (as cited in Brown, 2004: 28)
defined authenticity as the degree of correspondence of the characteristics of a
given language test task to the features of a target language. Several things must
be considered in making an authentic test: language used in the test should be
natural, the items are contextual, topics brought in the test should be meaningful
and interesting for the learners, the items should be organized thematically, and
the test must be based on the real-world.


Teacher-made Test versus Standardized Test

A standardized test presupposes certain standard objectives, or criteria,

that are held constant across one form of the test to another. The criteria in large-
scale standardized tests are designed to apply to a broad band of competencies that
are usually not exclusive to one particular curriculum. A good standardized test is
the product of a thorough process of empirical research and development. It
dictates standard procedures for administration and scoring. Finally, it is typical of
a norm-referenced test, the goal of which is to place test-takers by their relative
ranking. Since the scoring will be done by only one person, the standards should
remain reasonably consistent from paper to paper and test to test.
Obviously, few if any of the above conditions apply to the standardized
test, designed to be used with thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of
subjects throughout the nation or the world, and prepared (and perhaps
administered, scored, and interpreted) by a team of testing specialist with no
personal knowledge of the examinees and no opportunity to check on the
consistency of individual performances. Classroom teachers shall deal with both
types of testing in order to improve his own classroom measures and we will quite
probably need at some time or other to make us of standardized tests, and it is
therefore important that we know how to select and evaluate such instruments as
Kind of test
There are many kinds of tests, each with a specific purpose, a particular
criterion to be measured.
1. Proficiency Tests
A proficiency test is not intended to be limited to any one course, curriculum,
or single skill in the language. Proficiency tests have traditionally consisted of
standardized multi-ple-choice items on grammar, vocabulary, reading
comprehension, aural comprehension, and sometimes of a sample of writing. A
rather typical example of a standardized proficiency test is the Test of English as a
Foreign Language (TOEFL) produced by the Educational Testing Service. It is
used by nearly 1000 institutions of higher education in the United States as an
indicator of a prospective student's ability to undertake academic work in an
English medium.
Proficiency tests sometimes add sections that involve free writing (e.g.,
ETS's Test of Written English) and/or oral production (e.g., ETS's Test of Spoken
English), but these responses diminish the practicality of scoring on a high-
volume basis. The TOEFL and virtually every other large-scale proficiency test is
machine scorable; when scorers must either read writing samples or judge
audiotapes of spoken proficiency, a great deal of administrative cost and time are
2. Diagnostic and Placement Tests
A diagnostic test is designed to diagnose a particular aspect of a particular
language. A diagnostic test in pronunciation might have the purpose of
deter-mining which particular phonological features of the language pose
difficulty for a learner. Prator's (1972) Diagnostic Passage, for example, is a short
written passage that a student of English as a second language reads orally; the
teacher or tester then examines a tape recording of that reading against a very
detailed checklist of pronunciation errors. The checklist serves to diagnose certain
problems in pronunciation. Some proficiency tests can serve as diagnostic tests by
isolating and analyzing certain sets of items within the test. An achievement test
on a particular module in a curriculum might include a num-ber of items on modal
auxiliaries; these particular items could serve to diag-nose difficulty on modals.
Certain proficiency tests and diagnostic tests can act in the role of place-ment
tests whose purpose is to place a student in a particular level or section of a
language curriculum or school. A placement test typically includes a sam-pling of
material to be covered in the curriculum (that is, it has content valid-ity), and it
thereby provides an indication of the point at which the student will find a level or
class to be neither too easy nor too difficult but to be appro-priately challenging.