Proficiency-Based Reading Assessment

4-day Proficiency-Based Reading Assessment Workshop

Where: Northern Illinois University AND via Zoom (virtual format)

When: March – June 2022

What: One important SEALC objective is to offer training in developing expertise in proficiency assessment for the speaking and reading skills. Following the SEALC workshop on the Oral Proficiency Interview in 2019 and the Oral Proficiency Guidelines Project of 2020 , SEALC sponsored  two Reading Proficiency Assessment workshops in March of 2022. These two identical workshops were organized to develop reading assessment tools as well as to foster collaboration among U.S.- and Southeast Asia-based instructors of SE Asian languages. The first workshop, primarily for U.S.-based instructors, was hosted in-person by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University from March 3-6, 2022. At this workshop there were 29 participants, representing all 7 NRCs and an additional 8 institutions and included instructors of 7 languages (Burmese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese). The second workshop, primarily for SEA-based instructors, was held virtually from March 11-18, 2022.  At this workshop, there were 25 participants, representing 5 languages (Burmese, Filipino, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese) from a total of 15 institutions.  All workshop participants were required to have ACTFL OPI training.  For the 33 participants who had not had the OPI training, SEALC offered a complementary 12-hour asynchronous ACTFL OPI Familiarization training session from January 26 to February 9, 2022.

Dr. Catherine Baumann leading a virtual workshop session.

Catherine Baumann and Ahmet Dursun, language assessment experts from the University of Chicago, provided the high quality, intensive training for both workshops. Catherine Baumann is director of the University of Chicago Language Center. She received her Ph.D. in Second Languages and Cultures Education at the University of Minnesota, specializing in reading comprehension and language testing. She is a certified ACTFL tester and trainer, and does consulting for high school and college language programs on a variety of curricular and assessment-related issues. She oversees all programs in the University of Chicago Language Center. Ahmet Dursun is the Director of the Office of Language Assessment, where he is responsible for researching, developing, and managing the University’s language assessment programs. He is co-founder of the Language Pedagogy Innovation Initiative (LPII) at the University of Chicago where he has been designing and leading workshops in second language assessment and pedagogy. His work focusing on computer-assisted language teaching, testing research and practice, and test validation have appeared in multiple peer-reviewed journals, edited volumes, and books.

Attendees and participants in the SEALC Reading Proficiency Assessment Workshop (Northern Illinois University, March 3-6, 2022).
Attendees and participants in the Virtual SEALC Reading Proficiency Assessment Workshop (March 11-18, 2022)

During the main workshop sessions, Baumann and Dursun presented the concepts, terms, and principles of language assessment relevant to the reading proficiency levels (intermediate, advanced, and superior) and discussed the principles of proficiency-based test design while integrating reverse design. The measurable outcomes (target functions) of each level were discussed in relationship to ACTFL proficiency guidelines. Following these sessions, the participants, working in small, language-specific groups, designed tests for the three proficiency levels while identifying demonstrable and measurable target functions at each level.

From March until June 2022, small groups of instructors will collaboratively find appropriate reading texts to match the designs they have created and will then complete the development of the standardized reading proficiency assessment tests, with peer and trainer feedback, for 7 SE Asian languages. These developed reading proficiency assessment tests will be presented by language groups at a hybrid format 3-day Follow-up symposium, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison from June 6-8, 2022. Language groups will reflect on the impact of this project on their professional development, how it will affect their teaching, and their sense of a community of practice within and among the members of the US and SEA groups. Groups will also receive additional training from Ahmet Dursun on rubric development for correcting the results of their newly finalized reading tests.

The finalized reading tests from this project will be kept on file by SEALC, for use and adaptation by Southeast Asian language instructors nationwide.