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Evaluating Tests of Second Language Development

A Framework and an Empirical Study

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Khaled Barkaoui

The book introduces a framework for examining the validity of tests that aim to assess second-language (L2) proficiency development over time and/or in relation to L2 instruction. It also reports the findings of a longitudinal study that aimed to examine the sensitivity to change of a test of L2 proficiency development. Specifically, the study examined changes over time in Progress scores and the linguistic characteristics of essays written in response to Progress by learners who took the test before, during and after a period of L2 instruction in different countries. The book furthers our understanding of the nature of L2 proficiency as it develops over time and in relation to L2 instruction and provides a framework that can be used in future endeavours to design and validate tests of L2 proficiency development. The book is intended for graduate students, test developers, and researchers doing research in applied linguistics and L2 assessment.

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Chapter 8: Discussion and Implications

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Chapter 8Discussion and Implications

This book proposed a framework for evaluating tests of L2 development and illustrates the use of this framework in a study that aimed to evaluate the Progress test and its sensitivity to changes in L2 proficiency. Specifically, the study examined differences (between learners) and changes (over time) in Progress scores and the linguistic characteristics of essays written in response to the test by learners at different L2 proficiency levels and who took the test three times: at the start, middle and end of their English courses. This chapter summarizes and discusses the key findings of the study and their implications for the validity argument of the Progress tests as a measure of L2 development and for future research on the Progress test and the design and validation of tests of L2 development in general.

8.1.Summary and Discussion of Findings

Autocorrelations indicated that learners who obtained higher Progress scores on earlier test occasions obtained higher scores on later test occasions and vice versa. This pattern was consistent across all skills and generally applied to writing indices too. Tab. 8.1 summaries the key results of MLM analyses for each outcome variable in the study. The following subsections summarize and discuss the key findings in relation to each set of research questions.

8.1.1.Change in Progress Overall, Skills and Essay Scores

Cross-sectional comparisons of Progress scores at test occasion 1 (start of course) indicated that learners...

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