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Testcraft: A Teacher`s Guide to Writing and Using Language Test Specifications

Fred Davidson
Brian K. Lynch
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The creation of language tests is-and should be-a craft that is accessible and doable not only by a few language test experts, but also by many others who are involved in second/foreign language education, say the authors of this clear and timely book. Fred Davidson and Brian Lynch offer language educators a how-to guide for creating tests that reliably measure exactly what they are intended to measure. Classroom teachers, language administrators, and professors of language testing courses will find in this book an easy and flexible approach to language testing as well as the tools they need to develop tests appropriate to their individual needs.Davidson and Lynch explain criterion-related language test development, a process that focuses on the early stages of test development when the criterion to be tested is defined, specifications are established, and items and tasks are written. This process helps clarify the description of what is being measured by a test and enables teachers to give input on test design in any instructional setting. Informed by extensive research in criterion-referenced measurement, this book invites all language educators to participate in the craft of test development and shows them how to go about it.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13381-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. x-x)
  4. 1 The Nature of Testcraft
    (pp. 1-19)

    Testcraftis a book about language test development using test specifications, which are generative blueprints for test design. Our book is intended for language teachers at all career levels, from those in degree or training programs to those who are working in language education settings. We assume no formal training in language testing, no training in educational or psychological measurement, and (certainly!) no training in statistics.

    We wish to begin this book with a very important fundamental premise. Language educators—the readers of this book—are a profoundly diverse group of people. The variety and scope of language education is...

  5. 2 The Components of Test Specifications
    (pp. 20-33)

    In the previous chapter, we presented a definition and the generic format for test specifications that will inform most of the discussion in this book. Our format for a spec is adapted from the work of Popham (1978, 1981) and his associates at Instructional Objectives Exchange (IOX). We want to emphasize from the start, however, that there is no single best format, or rubric, for a test spec. Our reliance on the basic Popham/IOX spec components represents a personal choice, based on our appreciation of its efficiency and simplicity, and on our own experience and history as language testers. That...

  6. 3 Problems and Issues in Specification Writing
    (pp. 34-59)

    The way we have presented test specifications in Chapter 2 has tended to focus on more or less completed specs that are ready to be used. In this chapter we will focus on specification writing as series of problems to be resolved and will examine how specs are actually built. Most of the example specs from this point on will be in a state of flux. Our notion of testcraft builds on this dynamic, and involves ongoing discussion about critical issues, problems, and solutions. The example test specifications given in Chapters 1 and 2 are expository only.

    Although this chapter...

  7. 4 Building the Test
    (pp. 60-76)

    A test specification functions as a blueprint for many equivalent test tasks. The primary purpose of this book is to help you write specs. Through an iterative process of trial-and-error, specs can stabilize and become productive generators of test tasks.

    But a test is not the same thing as a spec. Nor are the tasks produced by a given spec or set of specs necessarily the same thing as a test. Writing a full test is frequently a process of assembling a number of tasks generated by several specs. Specs and their tasks exist in a “one-to-many” relationship; that is,...

  8. 5 The Mandate
    (pp. 77-97)

    We have intended in this book to provide a model of test development which is independent of any particular theoretical model of language ability or set belief about language education. We hope to help you write your own recipes for your own testing kitchen, rather than give you recipes to follow. We have thus far sketched a generative procedure of iterative, consensus-based, specification-driven test crafting that should work in any context. What sets this generative procedure in motion? Our name for this starting point of a test specification will be “mandate,” which we define as that combination of forces which...

  9. 6 The Team
    (pp. 98-120)

    In the preceding chapters, we have referred to the testing context and the testcrafting team. Chapters 3 and 4 presented testcrafting as a process that necessarily involves interaction with other people. Chapter 5, “The Mandate,” underscored the variety of people who have an interest in and who influence the forms and content of assessment procedures. In addition, the thought exercises for that chapter generally asked you to seek out colleagues and small work groups to explore the problems and consider the issues presented.

    We have scoured the educational measurement and language testing literature and have found very little information and...

  10. 7 The Agency of Testcraft
    (pp. 121-130)

    This book has set forth a framework for language test development that should be independent of theory, independent of curriculum, independent of politics, and we hope independent of that last, worst nemesis of testers: financial constraints. This is not to say that theory, curriculum, politics, and financial constraints are not an integral part of language test development. All testing is or should be theoretically based; all testing is political. The framework being proposed here does not assume any particular theory, curriculum, politics, or financial context. Our basic principles can be restated as follows:

    1. Test development is most efficient when...

  11. Appendix 1: Some Essentials of Language Testing
    (pp. 131-135)
  12. Appendix 2: Teaching Specification Writing
    (pp. 136-140)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 141-146)
  14. Index
    (pp. 147-149)