The meaning and uses of language test scores: an argument-based approach to validation
Van der Walt, Johann L.
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In this article, I discuss how the quality of language tests can be determined by means of a validation process. In the past, the quality of language tests was often determined by examining their reliability, content validity and reflection of real-world tasks. There have also been attempts to define the language ability construct, but this has proved to be a divisive issue. Attempts at validation were often unsystematic and ad hoc, reflecting a "toolkit" approach. Recent work in validation suggests an argument-based approach, which focuses on both the interpretation and uses of test scores. One of the main proponents of this approach is Michael T. Kane. I outline and assess his approach to validation and discuss and evaluate the most common inferences in language testing, such as sampling, scoring, generalization, extrapolation, explanation and utilization/decision-making. This approach allows for a systematic approach to the evaluation of tests, but requires further refinement in language testing and assessment.
- Faculty of Humanities