Realising Potential: Policy, Engagement, and Impact
The 7th British Council New Directions in English Language Assessment in East Asia will focus on the critical role that language assessment plays in the creation, reform, and implementation of policy. This year’s edition will return to Japan, a country which is in the midst of implementing large-scale language assessment reform.
Background to Theme
Since the early 1980s, testing boards have come to realise that the quality of language tests is not only determined by the internal content and behaviour of test items, but also by a number of external, consequential factors such as ethics and fairness. The role that policy plays in determining which tests are selected and how they are used is thus a key element in how we define the quality and usefulness of language tests.
Across East Asia, governments and ministries of education have sought ways to implement changes to their English language assessment policies as a way to encourage better classroom practice and therefore improve teachers’ and students’ English language proficiency. An example of this is the introduction of performance skills assessment – speaking and writing tests – as a requirement for university admissions, job placement, or entrance to other study programs. However, there is often a gap between the understanding of policy makers and reformers and those responsible for its implementation in curriculum design, teacher training, and classroom materials.
This year’s New Directions conference will seek to answer these questions:
- How do policy-makers decide on the creation of new policy or the reform of existing policy? What are their motivations when introducing new tests?
- How do educators interpret these changes and implement these in the classroom? What is the effect of this?
- What are the results of policy reform on language learning and proficiency?
- How have policy makers sought to align their policy with local contexts and needs, and what has the impact of this been?
- What steps have testing boards and policy makers taken to make tests more inclusive for all test takers?
- What is the impact of adding speaking and writing tests in contexts where students were previously not tested in these skills?
- Consequences of the use of technology: Testing boards are often quick to adapt technological assessment solutions, but what affect does this have on test-takers and institutions?