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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Priscilla M Allen
ENGL 576
Seattle Campus

Testing and Evaluation in English as a Second Language

Evaluation and testing of English language proficiency, including testing theory, types of tests, and teacher-prepared classroom tests. Prerequisite: ENGL 571 and ENGL 572 or permission of instructor.

Class description

This course will cover the basic elements of language testing and assessment in the context of current research and developments in testing. We will start by looking at standardized high-stakes language tests and their impact. You will learn what such tests can mean for you in the classroom and as professional development opportunities. We will then move toward classroom-based assessment within the context of the English Language Program at UW. In groups, you will write test specifications for creating tests for one of the UW ELP courses. Using the specifications written by your peers, you will then create a test. You may be able to pilot your test in the ELP and then statistically analyze how well it worked to achieve the goals of the specifications. Along the way, you will learn about developmental feedback using rubrics and other instruments as well as non-test based assessment including the use of portfolios in Freshman English at UW.

Student learning goals

To learn some basic principles and procedures of language assessment.

To encourage reflection, critique and awareness of current issues in language assessment.

To gain basic skills for developing fair and effective tests and giving pedagogically sound developmental feedback in the classroom context.

To gain basic statistical skills in analyzing test data for validity, reliability and item analysis.

General method of instruction

The primary method of instruction will be peer instruction. There will be some up-front teacher talk but more often you will become specialists in certain areas, and you will share your expertise with your peers.

Recommended preparation

Think about tests you have taken and given. Think about what those tests were designed to test, how it was tested, and what impact it had. Think about it from the perspective of the test taker and the test giver. What decisions were made as a result of the test? How confident are you that those decisions were accurate?

Class assignments and grading

Assignment 1 (individual): a letter to a student with recommendations for which English language proficiency test to take.

Assignment 2 (group): specifications for a test for one of the levels of the English Language Program at UW.

Assignment 3 (group): a test (or part of a test)

Assignment 4 (individual or group): a detailed analysis of the test that you created

For extra credit: apply everything you learned to critique a language test that is, in your opinion, poorly constructed or otherwise somehow very weak.

Grades will be based on assignments (20% each) and class participation (20%) in the form of group work, peer teaching, presentations and other in-class tasks.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Priscilla M Allen
Date: 03/29/2008