Report on The International Conference on Language Testing and Assessment: language assessment in the new era (innovation and assessment)
Five members of The East Asian Assessment Solutions Team attended the International Conference on Language Testing and Assessment over the weekend along with Professor Barry O’Sullivan and Dr. Jamie Dunlea from the British Council’s Assessment Research Group based in the UK.
The conference was held at the FLTRP centre out in the suburbs of Beijing and the main theme was on innovation and integration of assessment within the classroom. It was largely attended by educators across the China region, who hoped to gain some invaluable insights into how assessment decisions should be based on target language use for all stakeholders, particularly when it comes to teachers and learners
The opening address was given by Jian Weizhou who announced that the English version of the China’s Standards of English is now online. She then introduced that morning’s keynote speakers: Professors Lyle Bachman, Barry O’Sullivan, Han Baocheng and He Lianzhen. The major theme running through each speech was how assessment must have real pedagogical applications in terms of formative classroom assessment and validation even in large scale testing. Thus, the tone was set for the conference.
In his keynote speech, Professor Bachman outlined how the assessment use argument (AUA) can be used to make correct assessment decisions in the classroom. Professor O’Sullivan discussed issues with test theory and validation. Professor Han discussed how test constructs need to reflect current and future communicative needs of test takers while He Lianzhen gave an overview of the new China’s Standards of English Listening subscale and how it can be applied to standard setting and diagnostic assessment.
The symposium and parallel sessions continued with the themes set in the keynote speeches. Dr. Tannenbaum explained the concept of a just qualified candidate and how to apply it to standard setting, Wu Sha explained how the CSE was aligned to Aptis, IELTS and TOEFL iBT using panels of judges. This was further extrapolated on by Cai Hongwen with Dr. Dunlea explaining how such work needs external validation.
Parallel sessions in the afternoon from Chen Lei of Liulishuo talked of how Automated Assessment is now working on gauging non-verbal performance particularly with respect to presentation techniques.
On Sunday, a panel discussion was chaired bu Yang Lifan with Professors Wu Zunmin, Wang Haixiao and Gu Yongqi who dealt with approaches to language assessment literacy for the classroom and its necessity. This was followed by parallel sessions running alongside a symposium on validation and application
In one of the parallel sessions, Sheryl Cooke, head of EAAST, presented how the IELTS Teacher Essentials (ITE) course helps to reinforce the idea or constructs of IELTS for real world applications. As many test takers focus on just passing the test, the course helps teachers of IELTS use practical teaching approaches which provides long term language skills beyond that of just passing an English exam. The survey on the course showed that course feedback was generally very positive.
The conference ended with further keynote speeches from Professor Liu Jianda, Dr. Richard Tannenbaum and Professor Tim McNamara. Respective speeches dealt with the major topics of language frameworks, using reports appropriately for validation and English as a lingua franca. Professor Liu also announced the establishment of the China Association for Language Testing and Assessment which promises to be a significant thought leader in China language tests in the future.