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Validating Language Proficiency Assessments in Second Language Acquisition Research

Applying an Argument-Based Approach

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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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Appendix B: Scoring Guidelines for the Russian EIT

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209 AppenDIX B Scoring Guidelines for the Russian eIT SCoRe 0 Criteria examples • Nothing (Silence) • Garbled (unintelligible, usually transcribed as XXX) • Minimal repetition, then item abandoned: – Only 1 word repeated (or one word plus not-existing word) – Only 1 content word plus function word(s) – Only 1 content word plus function word(s) plus extraneous words that weren’t in the original stimulus – Only function word(s) repeated noTe: with только, только что, ещё (meaningful adverbs), score 1 – Реформа обсуждания (item 54) “Reform not-existing word” – Она выросла дней ХХХ Сочи. (item 31) “She grew up days Sochi” – что хорошо (item 32) “that good” – в России (item 40) “in Russia” Моя подруга детей за родителей (item 50) “My friend (fem) children after parents” Она только что закончила (item 46) “She just finished” (Closed word + Adv + lexical word) (score 1) SCoRe 1 Criteria examples • When only about half of idea units are represented in the string but a lot of important information in the original stimulus is left out • When barely half of lexical words get repeated and meaningful content results in the utterance that is unrelated (or opposed) to stimulus, frequently with hesitation markers – Аспиранты собираются (item 37) “PhD students meet” – Я надеюсь, что этом го раньше (item 47) “I hope this year earlier …” – Давай встретимся ночь посуда (item 9) “Let’s meet night dishes” – Экзамен ХХХ ты его написал (item 42) “Exam you wrote it” – Восьмого мама восьмого марта у нас праздник для (item 35) “Eighth mother eighth of March we have a party for” – Я сомневаюсь только хорошо (item 32) “I doubt only good” 210 Criteria examples • Or when string doesn’t in itself constitute a self-standing sentence with some (targetlike or nontargetlike) meaning (This may happen more often with shorter items, where if only 2 of 3 content words are repeated and no...

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