LTRC Seminar: Bringing tests to justice: what role for the language testers?

This is part of the Language Testing Research Centre Seminar series and is presented by Cathie Elder (Principal Fellow SOLL and former Director of the LTRC)

The theme of justice, when applied to language assessment, invites consideration of issues of validity, fairness, ethics, social consequences, accountability, responsibility and professionalism. These issues have all been addressed in the writings of Alan Davies (1931-2015) and taken up in different ways by other scholars in our field (eg Kunnan, Chalhoub Deville, Fulcher, Kunnan, McNamara, Shohamy). The paper considers the relevance of Davies’ ideas to current discussions about how, or to what extent, language testers can move to towards more socially responsible practice. While questions of fairness and ethicality loom large in current language testing scholarship, little attention has been paid in the published literature to ameliorative efforts by members of our profession to counter inappropriate uses of language tests in the policy arena although such efforts are arguably part and parcel of language testers’ professional responsibility.

The lessons to be learned from such efforts are considered with reference to cases where I and my colleagues have intervened in policy contexts where language tests were perceived to have been misunderstood, misrepresented or misused with potential or actual adverse consequences. I argue for greater dissemination of advocacy work by language testers and better training for members of our profession in the tools for effective and persuasive intervention in the policy domain.

Date: Thursday October 17
Time: 2 pm - 2.45 pm 
Venue: Room 407, Babel (Building 139), University of Melbourne, Parkville