Part 1: Jessica R W Wu, Language Training & Testing Center, Taiwan; Liying Cheng, Queen’s University, Canada; Nick Saville, Cambridge Assessment English
With its emphasis on informing and promoting learning, learning-oriented assessment (LOA) is usually identified with classroom practices and is sometimes contrasted with external testing for accountability purposes (Carless, Joughin and Mok 2006). This panel meeting turns the spotlight on large-scale proficiency testing, considering the extent to which large-scale testing currently supports effective language learning, how testing might be reformed to better support learning and how new technologies might contribute. The panel brings together perspectives from testing agencies, institutional testing programmes and classroom research to address the question in relation to the three pillars of LOA: learning tasks, learner agency and feedback. Learning tasks engage learners in an interactive process, providing opportunities for learners to reconsider and revise their responses. Learner agency implies that learners are not passive participants in assessment, but exercise choice and a degree of control over the content and direction of learning. This embraces practices such as self- and peer-assessment. Feedback not only involves the provision of information to learners about their performance, but also the use of such information to inform and enhance teaching and learning. The panellists will report on and debate the steps that test developers can take to encourage positive washback through task design, support for educators and enhanced score reporting. They will consider the impact of such measures on learners and other stakeholders in national education systems and reflect on new directions for assessment in technological environments.