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Validating Language Proficiency Assessments in Second Language Acquisition Research

Applying an Argument-Based Approach


Anastasia Drackert

The book introduces the reader to an argument-based approach to validity as a way to improve test validation in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research. Motivated by the need for practical suggestions for raising proficiency assessment standards in SLA research, it exemplifies the approach by validating two distinct score interpretations for a new Russian Elicited Imitation Test (EIT). Two empirical investigations with 164 Russian learners in the USA and Germany were conducted to evaluate the accuracy of the score interpretations associated with two distinct test uses. The EIT proved to constitute a reliable and valid instrument for differentiating between a wide range of oracy skills. The proposed cut scores enabled prediction of several levels of speaking and listening proficiency. The author concludes with implications for using the argument-based approach for validating assessments in SLA research, for the use of the developed Russian EIT, and for future research on Elicited Imitation Tests in general.


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Chapter 4: Validity Evaluation


According to the International Language Testing Association (ILTA), one of the three basic considerations for good testing practice in all situations, independent of test use or context, is for test developers to “provide information which allows valid inferences to be made. Validity refers to the accuracy of the inferences and uses that are made on the basis of the test scores. If, for example, the test purports to be measuring the ability to use English in business communication, the infer- ences based on the test score are valid to the degree that the test does in fact meas- ure that ability” (ILTA Guidelines for practice, 2007, p. 1). Since SLA researchers use tests to make different kinds of claims, it is very important to evaluate these claims thereby providing evidence for their justification and accuracy. This section briefly reviews the history of approaches to validity conceptualiza- tion and investigation and introduces the argument-based approach that is ap- plied in the empirical part of the publication for validating the Elicited Imitation Test for Russian. 4.1 earlier conceptualizations of validity (Trinity model) The current understanding of validity evaluation and its methodology is not pos- sible without looking at the main milestones of conceptual and methodological development of the notion of test validity. Through the 1970s, validation practices in educational measurement in general and language testing, in particular, were based of the trinity view of validity, with the criterion, content, and construct models considered as different types of validity, which could be applied...

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