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Academic Paper


Title: Language Assessment in Education: Tests, Curricula, and Teaching
Author: Alister Cumming
Institution: University of Toronto
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Abstract: Over the past decade, many concerted policy efforts have aimed to change the status and functions of language assessment in school systems or higher education, redefining relationships among language tests, curriculum policies, and classroom teaching practices. Conventionally, formal language tests describe individual proficiency levels in reference to normative standards for purposes of certifying abilities; screening applicants for higher education, employment, or immigration decisions; or monitoring the results of educational systems. Recently, many curriculum policies have been reconceptualized in reference to attainment or benchmark standards that specify (usually functional, communicative) goals for language education, learners' achievements, and program accountability. These innovations have adopted principles of criterion-referenced rather than norm-referenced assessment, creating new relations (as well as dilemmas) between language assessment and new curriculum policies, highlighting the nature of language assessment practices in programs, classrooms, or other learning contexts, particularly the foundation bases for defining language proficiency, alignment between assessments and curricula, the formative purposes of assessment in pedagogy, and the situations and interests of particular learner populations.

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This article appears IN Annual Review of Applied Linguistics Vol. 29, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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