Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Types and uses of language tests"

This is a summary of the main points in Chapter 1 of the Brown book, "Types and uses of language tests". The summary is a guide for you to continue reading in the topic, and also serves as an aid to your memory. This is necessary because for many students, testing is a very difficult subject and hard to understand, not to mention to remember. Many students told me that after finishing a course in testing, all they remember are two words: validity and reliability (which are abstract concepts and difficult to understand indeed!)

Hope the summary helps you in your study, and good luck!

1. Two important groups of test users in schools are program administrators and classroom teachers. They use tests to make 4 kinds of decisions: placement, diagnostic, achievement, and proficiency.

2. There are two families of tests to serve the different purposes: norm-referenced tests or NRT for program administrators and criterion-referenced tests CRT for teachers.

3. NRTs are used to compare students in terms of their general abilities, while CRTs are used to decide whether students have acquired particular the knowledge or skills required of them. (cf. Table 1.1 on page 3)

4. Each test purpose requires a different kind of information. Therefore, NRTs and CRTs employ different methods for test item construction, scoring and score interpretation. (cf. Table 1.2 on page 7).

Further resources on this topic

1. Norm- and criterion-referenced testing by Bond, Linda A. - Link:

A short, nice introduction to NRT and CRT. If anyone has the time to translate this for me, I will be grateful!

2. Assessment purposes (my title: NRT and CRT compared). Link:

Very good, succinct comparison of NRT and CRT. You will need to go back to this when you do your assignments.

3. How to understand the difference between norm- and criterion-referenced testing - Link:

A further discussion of the differences between the two families of tests.
Well, so much for now. See you all tomorrow!

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