Using the Assessment Use Argument to Validate the Consequence Inference of an English Placement Assessment at Two Language Programs




Wang, Yangting

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The current study aimed to validate the consequence inference of the English placement test (Michigan English Placement Test and the writing test) in two university language programs at the United States. Drawing from the Assessment Use Argument framework (Bachman & Palmer, 2010), this study validated the consequence inference by collecting evidence for face validity and consequential validity. Specifically, I examined three groups of stakeholders' perceptions of the English placement Assessment (EPA) (students, teachers, and program administrators) as well as the impact of test decisions for all stakeholders involved. The learning-oriented assessment, an approach to support and promote student learning (Carless, Joughin, & Mok, 2006), serves as the guide to answer the central question of whether the placement test and impact of test decisions can benefit student learning. This study follows a partially sequential qualitative dominant mixed-methods research design (Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2007). Data were collected in summer and fall 2019. For face validity, stakeholder perceptions of English Placement Assessment (EPA) were evaluated by surveys and interviews using descriptive statistics and qualitative coding technique. For consequential validity, paired sample t-tests were used to examine the impact of test decisions on students' motivation over one semester. Students', teachers,' and program directors' interview data on the impact of placement test decisions on students' motivation and course instructions were analyzed using qualitative coding techniques. To gain a more comprehensive picture of the consequence of EPT, results from the Eastern Academic English (Eastern AE) and Southern Academic English (Southern AE) were compared for similarities and differences using descriptive statistics, qualitative codes, and examples. Results indicate that stakeholder groups had a positive attitude toward EPA in general. Potential rebuttal evidence was found. In terms of the impact of test decisions, Southern AE students had a significant improvement in self-efficacy. Additionally, test decisions influenced students' motivation in different directions and students' motivation changed over the semester. Test decisions also influenced teachers' course instruction at both programs and sometimes the impact can be negative. Suggestions were made in connection to the Learning-Oriented Assessment approach. Implications for test validation research and test development were discussed.


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English language programs, English placement test, language assessment



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies