David Newbold: Local Institution, Global Examination: Working Together for a ‘Co-certification’
127 Local Institution, Global Examination: Working Together for a ‘Co-certification’ David Newbold1 University of Ca’ Foscari, Venice The gap between major testing organizations whose products are intended for a world market, and the institutions which use them across the globe can seem potentially unbridgeable from a local perspective. For the testing organization, the challenge is to produce language tests which are objective, culturally unbiased, politically correct, and universally valid (and one could add some more qualities to this list). But for the test taker, and for the teachers and institutions who have to make choices about which tests to use, the resulting tests may be perceived at best as anodyne, and at worst inappropriate. This paper charts the progress and pitfalls of an experiment in co-certification – a collaborative process by which a local institution worked with an international assessment agency to adapt an existing suite of tests, with the aim of making it more suited to local needs. Six years on, the co-certification appears to be a ‘niche’ product requiring a considerable investment of time and energy by both partners. However, we believe that it is increasingly in the interests of global testers to be sensitive to local needs and contexts; that the project we have described shows that collaboration is possible, and can lead to better tests; and that the model outlined could be adapted to other, quite different, contexts. Key words: co-certification, external assessment, CEFR 1. Collaboration – but between whom? 1.1 The need for collaboration The growing importance...
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