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(c) test development in national or institutional testing centres
Questions for consideration rather than principled statements
need to be filtered through particular context of each ‘test situation’ - Davies: ethics and standards are about “maintaining a balance between the rights of the individual and the demands of the social.”
EALTA : “test developers are encouraged to engage in dialogue with decision makers in their institutions and ministries to ensure that decision makers are aware of both good and bad practice, in order to enhance the quality of assessment systems and practices.”
major revision was sanctioned by The University of Reading in 1999, based on:
items functioning unpredictably, highlighting difficulties in quality. (O’Sullivan, 1999)
an out-dated needs analysis to reflect modern needs/views of language competence (O’Sullivan, 2000).
“ The purpose of EALTA is to promote the understanding of theoretical principles of language testing and assessment, and the improvement and sharing of testing and assessment practices throughout Europe.”
“ There needs to be a description of the standard or level, an explicit statement of the measure that will indicate that the level has or has not been reached and a means of reporting that decision through grades, scores, impressions, profiles and so on.......Description, measure and report, these three stages are essential….” (underlining ours)
a set of principles influenced by “moral philosophy”
a guide to “good professional conduct”
a “benchmark of satisfactory ethical behaviour by members of a profession”
a ‘ blending’ of principles of benevolence, non-maleficence, justice, a respect for autonomy and for civil society
DOES NOT REPRESENT :
statutes or regulations
guidelines for practice
Sample “Principles” from ILTA’s Code of Ethics ( available for public consultation on ILTA’s webpage at http://www.iltaonline.com ) Principle 1 : “ Language testers shall have respect for the humanity and dignity of each of their test takers. They shall provide them with the best possible professional consideration and shall respect all persons’ needs, values and cultures in the provision of their language testing service.” Principle 6 : “ Language testers shall share the responsibility of upholding the integrity of the language testing profession.” Principle 9 : “ Language testers shall regularly consider the potential effects, both short and long term on all stakeholders of their projects, reserving the right to withhold their professional service on the grounds of conscience.”
A Code of PRACTICE (according to Davies, 2007)
meant to specify or instantiate points mentioned in Code of Ethics
identifies minimum requirements for practice in profession and focuses on clarification of professional misconduct
Sample items from ILTA’s Code of Practice (available for public consultation on ILTA’s webpage at http:// www.iltaonline.com ) Item A2 : “All tests, regardless of their purpose or use, must provide information which allows valid inferences to be made. Validity refers to the accuracy of the inferences and uses that are made on the basis of the test’s scores. If, for example….” (Item continues for 5 more lines) Item B2 : “A test designer must decide on the construct to be measured and state explicitly how that construct is to be operationalised.” Item B6 : “Those doing the scoring should be trained for the task and both inter and intra-rater reliability should be calculated and published.” Item D3 : “Those preparing and administering publicly available tests should publish validity and reliability estimates and bias reports for the test, along with sufficient explanation to allow potential test takers and test users to decide if the test is suitable in their situation.”
“ It has been suggested that ethics in language testing is no more than an extended validity. This is the argument of Alderson, Clapham and Wall (1995), that ethics is made up of a combination of validity and washback. Validity, and particularly consequential validity, is defined by Messick (1989) as being concerned with the social consequences of test use and how test interpretations are arrived at. Gibbs (1994) considers that consequential validity represents a shift from: ‘a purely technical perspective to a test-use perspective – which I would characterise as an ethical perspective’ (Gibbs, p.146).”
Alderson, J. C., Clapham, C., & Wall, D. (1995). Standards in language testing: The state of the art. In J.C. Alderson, C. Clapham, & D. Wall. Language Test Construction and Evaluation. (pp 235-260). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Boyd, K. and Davies, A. (2002) Doctors’ orders for language testers: the origin and purpose of ethical codes. Language Testing , 19 (3), 296-322.
Davidson, F,, Turner, C., & Huhta, A. (1997). Language testing standards. In C. Clapham & D. Corson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education, Volume i7: Language testing and assessment (pp. 303-311). Dordrecht : Kluwer.
Davies, A. (1997) Introduction: the limits of ethics in language testing. Language Testing 14 (3) 235-241.
Davies, A. (2007) Ethics, professionalism, rights and codes. In E. Shohamy & N.H. Hornberger (Eds.) Encyclopedia of language and education (2nd Ed.), Volume 7: Language Testing and Assessment (pp.419-443). Springer Science + Business Media.
Hamp-Lyons, L. (1997). Washback, impact and validity: ethical concerns. Language Testing , 14 (3) 295-303.
Howe, K.R. (1994) Standards, assessment and equality of educational opportunity. Educational researcher 23, 27-33.
Lynch, B.K. (1997). In search of the ethical test. Language Testing 14 (3) 315-327.
Spolsky, B. (1997). The ethics of gatekeeping tests: What have we learned in a hundred years? Language Testing 14 (3) 242-247.