Language Assessment - Principles and Classroom Practice / Edition 1

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Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices, by best-selling author H. Douglas Brown, offers a clear, comprehensive survey of the essential principles of assessing second language learning, as well as the critical tools teachers need to evaluate performance fairly and effectively. This invaluable resource joins Brown's classic texts, Principles of Language Learning and Teaching and Teaching by Principles, in providing indispensible guidance for second language instruction.

Written in Brown's familiar, accessible style, Language Assessment provides a working knowledge of the principles of assessment and their practical application in the classroom. This concise, comprehensive treatment of all four skills includes classification of assessment techniques ranging from controlled to open-ended item types, while a discussion of standardized tests examines their design, purpose, validity, and utility.

Additional key features:

  • Clearly framed fundamental principles for evaluating and designing assessment procedures.
  • A focus on classroom-based assessment at all levels of proficiency.
  • A thorough examination of standards-based assessment and standardized testing.
  • A wealth of practical examples to illustrate principles and guidelines.
  • An exploration of the ethics of testing in an educational and commercial world.
  • Comprehensive treatment of alternatives in assessment.
  • A chapter devoted to guidelines and practical suggestions for assigning grades.
  • End-of-chapter exercises and suggested additional readings.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130988348
  • Publisher: Pearson ESL
  • Publication date: 8/29/2003
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents


1 Testing, Assessing, and Teaching

What Is a Test?

Assessment and Teaching

Informal and Formal Assessment

Formative and Summative Assessment

Norm-Referenced and Criterion-Referenced Test

Approaches to Language Testing: A Brief History

Discrete-point and Integrative Testing

Communicative Language Testing

Performance-Based Assessment

Current Issues in Classroom Testing

New Views on Intelligence

Traditional and “Alternative” Assessment

Computer-Based Testing


For Your Further Reading

2 Principles of Language Assessment



Student-Related Reliability

Rater Reliability

Test Administration Reliability

Test Reliability


Content-Related Evidence

Criterion-Related Evidence

Construct-Related Evidence

Consequential Validity

Face Validity



Applying Principles to the Evaluation of Classroom Tests

1. Are the test procedures practical?

2. Is the test reliable?

3. Does the procedure demonstrate content validity?

4. Is the procedure face valid and “biased for best”?

5. Are the test tasks as authentic as possible?

6. Does the test offer beneficial washback to the learner?


For Your Further Reading

3 Designing Classroom Language Tests

Test Types

Language Aptitude Tests

Proficiency Tests

Placement Test

Diagnostic Tests

Achievement Tests

Some Practical Steps to Test Construction

Assessing Clear, Unambiguous Objectives

Drawing Up Test Specifications

Devising Test Tasks

Designing Multiple-Choice Test Items

1. Design each item to measure a specific objective

2. State Both stem and options as simply and directly as possible

3. Make certain that the intended answer is clearly the only correct one

4. Use item indices to accept, discard, or revise items

Scoring, Grading, and Giving Feedback



Giving Feedback


For Your Further Reading

4 Standardized Testing

What Is Standardization?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Standardized Tests

Developing a Standardized Test

1. Determine the purpose and objectives of the test

2. Design test specifications

3. Design, select, and arrange test tasks/items

4. Make appropriate evaluations of different kinds of items

5. Specify scoring procedures and reporting formats

6. Perform ongoing construct validation studies

Standardized Language Proficiency Testing

Four Standardized Language Proficiency Tests

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®)

Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC®)


For Your Further Reading

Appendix to Chapter 4:

Commercial Proficiency Tests: Sample Items and Tasks

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®)

Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC®)

5 Standards-Based Assessment

ELD Standards

ELD Assessment


Teacher Standards

The Consequences of Standards-Based and Standardized Testing

Test Bias

Test-Driven Learning and Teaching

Ethical Issues: Critical Language Testing


For Your Further Reading

6 Assessing Listening

Observing the Performance of the Four Skills

The Importance of Listening

Basic Types of Listening

Micro- and Macroskills of Listening

Designing Assessment Tasks: Intensive Listening

Recognizing Phonological and Morphological Elements

Paraphrase Recognition

Designing Assessment Tasks: Responsive Listening

Designing Assessment Tasks: Selective Listening

Listening Cloze

Information Transfer

Sentence Repetition

Designing Assessment Tasks: Extensive Listening


Communicative Stimulus-Response Tasks

Authentic Listening Tasks


For Your Further Reading

7 Assessing Speaking

Basic Types of Speaking

Micro- and Macroskills of Speaking

Designing Assessment Tasks: Imitative Speaking

PhonePass Test

Designing Assessment Tasks: Intensive Speaking

Directed Response Tasks

Read-Aloud Tasks

Sentence/Dialogue Completion Tasks and Oral Questionnaires

Picture-Cued Tasks

Translation (of Limited Stretches of Discourse)

Designing Assessment Tasks: Responsive Speaking

Question and Answer

Giving Instructions and Directions


Test of Spoken English (TSE)

Designing Assessment Tasks: Interactive Speaking


Role Play

Discussions and Conversations


Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

Designing Assessment: Extensive Speaking

Oral Presentations

Picture-Cued Story-Telling

Retelling a Story, News Event

Translation (of Extended Prose)


For Your Further Reading

8 Assessing Reading

Types (Genres) of Reading

Microskills, Macroskills, and Strategies for Reading

Types of Reading

Designing Assessment Tasks: Perceptive Reading

Reading Aloud

Written Response


Picture-Cued Items

Designing Assessment Tasks: Selective Reading

Multiple-Choice (for Form-Focused Criteria)

Matching Tasks

Editing Tasks

Picture-Cued Tasks

Gap-Filling Tasks

Designing Assessment Tasks: Interactive Reading

Cloze Tasks

Impromptu Reading Plus Comprehension Questions

Short-Answer Tasks

Editing (Longer Texts)


Ordering Tasks

Information Transfer: Reading Charts, Maps, Graphs, Diagrams

Designing Assessment Tasks: Extensive Reading

Skimming Tasks

Summarizing and Responding

Note-Taking and Outlining


For Your Further Reading

9 Assessing Writing

Genres of Written Language

Types of Writing performance

Micro- and Macroskills of Writing

Designing Assessment Tasks: Imitative Writing

Tasks in [Hand] Writing Letters, Words, and Punctuation

Spelling Tasks and Detecting Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondences

Designing Assessment Tasks: Intensive (Controlled) Writing

Dictation and Dicto-Comp

Grammatical Transformation Tasks

Picture-Cued Tasks

Vocabulary Assessment Tasks

Ordering Tasks

Short-Answer and Sentence Completion Tasks

Issues in Assessing Responsive and Extensive Writing

Designing Assessment Tasks: Responsive and Extensive Writing


Guided Question and Answer

Paragraph Construction Tasks

Strategic Options

Test of Written English (TWE®)

Scoring Methods for Responsive and Extensive Writing

Holistic Scoring

Primary Trait Scoring

Analytic Scoring

Beyond Scoring Responding to Extensive Writing

Assessing Initial Stages of the Process of Composing

Assessing Later Stages of the Process of Composing


For Your Further Reading

10 Beyond Tests: Alternatives in Assessment

The Dilemma of Maximizing Both Practicality and Washback

Performance-Based Assessment



Conferences and Interviews


Self- and Peer-Assessments

Types of Self- and Peer-Assessment

Guidelines for Self- and Peer- Assessment

A Taxonomy of Self- and Peer-Assessment Tasks


For Your Further Reading

11 Grading and Student Evaluation

Philosophy of Grading: What Should Grades Reflect?

Guidelines for Selecting Grading Criteria

Calculating Grades: Absolute and Relative Grading

Teachers’ Perceptions of Appropriate Grade Distributions

Institutional Expectations and Constraints

Cross-Cultural Factors and the Question of Difficulty

What Do Letter Grades “Mean”?

Alternatives to Letter Grading

Some Principles and Guidelines for Grading and Evaluation


For Your Further Reading


Name Index

Subject Index

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