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Re-visioning a language testing system in China: key drivers of change
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Abstract

A sociopolitical perspective is adopted to examine major driving forces behind the changes in the College English Test (CET), a national language testing program in China. The presentation also discusses the importance of evidence-based validation of the impact of accountability testing on four CET key stakeholder groups. I explore mechanisms of change by reviewing measures taken at various stages to position and align the CET with the agenda of each of the four stakeholders: government’s reform policies, intentions and concerns of administrators, needs and perceptions of teachers and students, and expectations of future employers. The review points to a crucial challenge for accountability testing, i.e., how to realize intended changes and evaluate the consequences of changes. Reform is only the means, not the end! To hold themselves accountable to stakeholders, researchers and practitioners need to better understand accountability testing mechanisms and incorporate consequences into validity frameworks.

Summary

The presentation examines reform efforts to align the College English Test in China with the agenda of four stakeholder groups. The review contends that reform is only the means, not the end and highlights the importance of understanding the mechanisms of change and evaluating realized consequences.

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