Assessing Language Proficiency at the Advanced/Superior Border: Correlations Among Modalities

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Presented at: GURT 2016

This presentation will report on entry and exit proficiency testing outcomes for an English for specific purposes program that enables native speakers of critical languages to develop the professional English skills they need to succeed in positions with the federal government. Program participants are assessed in English listening, speaking, reading, and writing at entry and again at exit, using tests that are aligned with the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) proficiency scales. To be admitted to the program, participants must receive a rating of ILR Level 2 (Advanced) or higher in all four modalities at entry. The goal is to achieve ILR Level 3 (Superior) proficiency in all four modalities at exit from the 8-month program.

Over the ten years of the program’s implementation, challenges have most consistently been evident in achieving measurable increases in English writing proficiency. This presentation will report on an analysis that seeks to identify factors that may correlate with increased writing proficiency. Factors investigated include level at entry and degree of proficiency improvement in listening, speaking, and reading; and demographic/individual factors such as native language, proficiency in multiple languages, educational background, field(s) of study, and professional background. The results of the analysis are expected to have implications for curriculum design, classroom instruction, and individual study plans for participants in this program and in other advanced writing instruction.