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Language Resource Center Speaker Series - Margaret E. Malone

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Stimson Hall, G25
204 East Ave., Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

"What do students and instructors need to understand about language assessment and what do language assessment developers and researchers need to know about students and instructors?"
Margaret E. Malone
Director, Assessment and Evaluation Language Resource Center (AELRC) at Georgetown University
Research Professor, Georgetown University
Director, ACTFL Center for Assessment, Research and Development

This talk explores the importance of understanding language assessment from the lens of a researcher and developer of language tests and reflects on how students are and should be included in the language assessment development and implementation processes. As the language testing field has explored, discussed, and researched issues of language assessment literacy, we have focused primarily on a subset of stakeholders, including language instructors and administrators and even policy makers (Deygers & Malone, 2019; Baker, Tsushima, & Wang, 2014; Fulcher, 2012; Malone, 2013; Pill & Harding, 2013; Scarino, 2013). This research has identified some of the disconnects between test users and test developers, as well as between what administrators and teachers understand about assessment and what assessments actually measure. Yet, the very definition of language assessment literacy is “the knowledge, skills and principles that stakeholders” need (Inbar-Lourie, 2013, p. 1), and the test taker is the sine qua non in any test. As McNamara (2001) indicates, classroom- based stakeholders, teachers and students, are frequently ignored in the test development process. Why, then, do so many published language assessment literacy projects focus on teachers and other stakeholders and so few focus on test takers themselves? 

In this talk, I will first explore the roots of language assessment literacy and review the ILTA Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. I will examine the research conducted to date on language assessment literacy and identify the current strengths of such research as well as the gaps, specifically those related to test takers. After identifying the gaps, I will turn to general education and identify approaches to including test takers in assessment literacy efforts and discuss potential relevance to language assessment. Finally, I will discuss the connection between language assessment literacy and test development. 

Bio: Margaret E. Malone (Ph.D., Georgetown University) is Director of the Assessment and Evaluation Language Resource Center (AELRC) and Research Professor at Georgetown. She is also Director of the Center for Assessment, Research and Development at ACTFL. She has nearly three decades of experience in language test development, materials development, delivery of professional development, and teacher training through both online and face-to-face methods, data collection and survey research, and program evaluation. Her current research focuses on language assessment literacy, oral proficiency assessment, the influences of the Seal of Biliteracy on language teaching and learning, and the development of short-cut measures of proficiency. Prior to joining Georgetown and ACTFL, she was Associate Vice President of World Languages and International Programs at the Center for Applied Linguistics. Earlier in her career, she served as the first Language Testing Specialist for Peace Corps-Worldwide, where she managed oral language testing for 60 countries and over 120 languages.

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