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CRITICAL TESTING: MAIN FEATURES

Implies the need to develop critical strategies


to examine the uses and consequences of
tests, to monitor their power, minimize their
detrimental force, reveal the misuses and
empower the test takers
Refers to the activity of embedding tests in
reference to social, ethical, educational and
political contexts.


CRITICAL TESTING: MAIN FEATURES (CONT.)
Attempts to provide a critique of the field of
testing and make testers more aware
and more socially reflexive by collecting
data on the uses of tests as well as by
pointing out such uses to users and the
public at large

CRITICAL TESTING: MAIN FEATURES (CONT.)
Most important aims, in reference to the
findings of this book regarding the uses of
tests, are to minimize, limit and control the
powerful uses of tests
Further attempts to encourage tests, the
materials they are based on and critique
their values and the beliefs inherent in them

PROPOSED PRINCIPLES IN THE MAKING
UP OF CRITICAL TESTING
(ADAPTED, IN PART, FROM PENNYCOOK,
1994, AND KRAMSCH, 1993)

CRITICAL TESTING
Claims that the act of language testing is not
neutral. Rather, it is a product and agent of
cultural, social, political, educational and
ideological agendas that shape lives of
individual participants, teachers and learners
Encourages test takers to develop a critical view
of tests as well as to act on it by questioning
tests and critiquing the value which is inherent
in them

CRITICAL TESTING (CONT.)
Views test takers as political subject in political
context
Views tests as tools directly related to levels of
success, deeply embedded in cultural,
educational and political areas where
different ideological and social forms are in
struggle

CRITICAL TESTING (CONT.)
Asks questions about what sort of agendas
are delivered through tests and whose
agendas they are
Claims that testers need to ask themselves
what sort of vision of society tests create
and what vision of society tests are used for

CRITICAL TESTING (CONT.)
Examines calls for a need to question the
purposes and actual uses of tests
Asks questions about whose tests are based
on
Examines the stakeholders of tests
Perceives testing as being caught up in an
array of questions concerning education
and social systems


CRITICAL TESTING (CONT.)
Admits that the knowledge of any tester is
incomplete and that there is a need to
rely on additional sources to obtain more
accurate and valid description and
interpretation of knowledge

CRITICAL TESTING (CONT.)
Challenges psychometric traditions and
considers interpretive ones whereby
different meanings and interpretations
are considered for tests scores, with
no attempt to arrive at an absolute
truth

CRITICAL TESTING (CONT.)
Considers the meaning of language test
scores, the degree to which they are
prescriptive, and the extent to which
they are open to discussion,
negotiations and multiple
interpretations
Challenges the knowledge on which test
is based on

CRITICAL TESTING (CONT.)
Challenges the use of the test as the
only and instrument to asses
knowledge and conspires multiple
procedures, the sum of which can
provide a more valid picture for
interpreting the knowledge of
individuals

AGENDA FOR CRITICAL TESTING
To make language testing a discipline and an
area of knowledge that is reflexive and
socially aware
To conduct a critique of language testing as a
disciplinary practice in Foucauldian sense
To provide a type of liberal response to such a
critique by suggesting alternative types of
testing

GUIROX (1996:36)
writes that democracy takes up the issue of
transferring power from elites and executive
authorities who control the economic and
cultural apparatus of society, to those
producers who yield power at the local level
and is made concrete through the organization
and exercise of horizontal power in which
knowledge needs to be widely shared through
education and other technologies of cultures.

DARLING-HAMMOND (1994)
argues that there is a need to change the ways in
which we use assessment:
From sorting mechanisms to diagnostic supports
From external monitors of performance to locally
generated tools for inquiring deeply into teaching
and learning
From purveyors of sanctions for those already
underserved to levers for equalizing source

SHARING THE POWER AND CONSTRUCTING
KNOWLEDGE
Testing is practiced nowadays as reflection of
knowledge and values of those in authority.
McNeil (1986) further states that accountability and
control schemes often generate the opposite of
what they intend so that when the schools
organization becomes centered on managing and
controlling teachers and students take school less
seriously.

Freire (1985) promotes an approach whereby
a meaningful dialogical between two
partners the evaluator and the evaluatee
takes place. This is one way whereby
evaluation is differentiated from inspection.

Through inspection, educators just become
objects of vigilance by central organization.
Through evaluation, everyone is a subject
along with the central organization in the act
of criticism and establishing distance from
the word.

Adopting democratic approaches assumes
that the tester is no longer the know it all;
knowing all the knowledge, but rather the
knowledge of measurement is so complex
that even the best professional, familiar with
all the advance methods of testing, does not
have all the answers.

Current views, therefore, perceive the act
of testing as mutual effort of testers and
test takers along with other sources of
knowledge (parents, teachers, peers).

Fetterman, Kaftarian and Wandersman
(1996) introduce the notion of
empowerment evaluation which fosters
improvement and self-determination and
aims to help people to help themselves and
improve their programs using a form of self-
evaluation and reflection.

Thus, new models of assessment which are
currently proposed to follow principles of
shared power. Collaboration and
representation, and can therefore be viewed as
more democratic.

In some approaches, local groups test takers,
students, teachers, and school share power
by collecting their own assessment, project,
observations and tests.

In some extreme models, all the power is
transferred from central bodies to local
ones. Broadfoot (1996) such approaches
may lead to an illusion of democracy, as
teaches become the new servants of central
systems, referred to by her as a new order
of dominion.

The preferred model is therefore a democratic
one, where power is not transferred but
shared. Through constructive, interpretive
ad dialogical sessions each participant
collects language data and demonstrates it
an interpretive and contextualized manner.

This approach can be suggested,
therefore, that assessment of students
achievement ought to be seen as an art,
rather than science, in that it is
interpretive, idiosyncratic, interpersonal
and relative.

EXAMPLES OF COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES
TO ASSESSMENT
Contextualization and shared authority
with regard to certification (Moss, 1996)
Certification is made locally through dialogue
among professionals who are familiar with
the candidates. There should be documented
observations and interactions over time with
the candidates.

Democratic Assessment Model (Shohamy,
1995)
In this model, the language proficiency of the
immigrants is being assessed by a number
of agents teachers, the test takers
themselves (self-assessment and
portfolios), and a standardized diagnostic
test administered by a central body.

EXAMPLES OF COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES
TO ASSESSMENT (CONT.)
Dialogically shared model in the program
evaluation (Nevo, 1996)
Dialoguing implies a two-way relationship that
is based on the assumption that nobody
knows everything, but both parties know
something and through dialogue they will
learn more.

EXAMPLES OF COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES
TO ASSESSMENT (CONT.)
Model of Empowerment Evaluation
(Fetterman, et. al., 1996)
Focuses on self-determination and
collaboration, the evaluation is a group
activity, not an individual pursuit.

EXAMPLES OF COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES
TO ASSESSMENT (CONT.)
Alternative Paradigms of Testing
Moss argues that there is need to expand
the dialogue among measurement
professionals to include voices form
research traditions different from the
conventional ones.

Multiple Assessment Procedures
This is based on the assumption that tests
are limited in what they can assess and that
it is therefore essential that the other
procedures will be used to get to those
areas that cannot be tapped by test.

THE USE OF FEEDBACK
The use of tests as learning tools rather than power
tools. From an ethical perspective this is a very
useful approach as using tests for power and
control, and not for providing the test taker with
feedback can be considered as a situation in which
the test taker is being used by those authority.
Thus, the use of feedback provides more ethical
and pedagogical approach, as the outcome is
improved learning.