Establishing placement test fit and performance: Serving local needs

  • Gerriet Janssens Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawai’i, Mãnoa
  • Valerie Meier Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawai’i, Mãnoa
Keywords: Language programs, tests analysis. (en_US)

Abstract (en_US)

Accountability in language education is often associated with top-down national policies unresponsive—or even hostile to—local needs; however, when accountability is driven by local stakeholders seeking to better understand and enhance their programs, it can foster productive cycles of action research and curriculum development. This paper reports on one such internally-motivated accountability effort, in which program insiders sought to determine the efficacy of a reading test being administered to a new population of students at one Colombian university. Descriptive statistics, reliability estimates, and item facility and discrimination measures were used to determine whether this test was sufficiently reliable and appropriately matched to test takers’ ability in order to warrant its use as part of a high-stakes English-language placement exam. A detailed analysis of this test is used not only to propose specific recommendations for revision but also to illustrate a useful set of statistical tools appropriate for test analysis in other language programs. Moreover, we conclude that the involvement of local instructors as part of an iterative, self-reflective, test development process provides opportunities for professional development and deeper engagement in accountability projects.


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Author Biographies

Gerriet Janssens, Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawai’i, Mãnoa

After completing his MA in Applied Linguistics and TESL (UCLA, 2005), he worked for six years at Universidad
de los Andes, which strongly supported his growing interest in curriculum development. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at University
of Hawai‘i, Mãnoa's Department of Second Language Studies, where he is pursuing his research interests in exam and program validity,
language test development, corpus linguistics, and quantitative research methodologies. He intends to return to Colombia and Los Andes
in order to finish his dissertation research and teach.

Valerie Meier, Department of Second Language Studies University of Hawai’i, Mãnoa

After completing an MA in Composition (SFSU, 2003) she taught a variety of academic writing and reading classes at
US universities and business English in Asia. She has just finished an MA program in Second Language Studies (2013) at the University
of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, where she further developed her interests in academic literacies, EAP program development and evaluation, computermediated
communication, and language assessment.


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How to Cite
Janssens, G., & Meier, V. (2013). Establishing placement test fit and performance: Serving local needs. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 15(1), 100 - 112.
Published: 2013-01-01
Research Articles