Yan Jin is a professor of linguistics and applied linguistics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. She started her career as a language tester in the early 1990s and has been involved in the development and research of large-scale, high-stakes language tests for three decades. She is currently chair of the National College English Testing Committee of China. She is co-editor-in-chief of the Springer open-access journal Language Testing in Asia and is also on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals published in and outside China. She received the Cambridge/ILTA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2021.


Panel member: Assessment in learning systems in Asia - impeding, driving or improving? 

Day 2 - Saturday 28 October - 11.00-12.15

Valid assessment is a vital part of an effective Comprehensive Learning System (O’Sullivan, 2020). A CLS integrates the curriculum, the delivery of the curriculum including through teaching and learning practices and materials, and assessment. Not only do we need to be careful to seek balance across these broad features of the CLS triangle, ensuring that each aspect is fully described and supported without any one aspect dominating. Within each of these aspects, we also need to balance the various demands and needs of each. For assessment, it is better to talk in the plural, as various kinds of assessments will be needed, targeting different stages of the learning journey of students, providing different kinds of feedback, scores, and grades, and supporting different kinds of uses of those results by different stakeholders, including by learners themselves, teachers, schools and education boards, ministries of education etc. This panel brings together insights from across diverse contexts in Asia to ask: are we getting the balance right? Since the first New Directions in English Language Assessment conference in Beijing in 2013, the conference has shone a light on sometimes contentious issues and invited solutions for challenges which often seem unique to a particular context to those grappling with them, but are in practice often shared to a greater or lesser degree by many learning systems. Our discussions have ranged over thorny issues including the role of policy in language assessment, the role language testing does or doesn’t play in driving positive washback, particularly in relation to redressing the imbalance across many education systems in the teaching of productive skills, and attempting to describe the meaning of fairness and quality in assessment design and development. Against this decade of New Directions bringing our community together to share experiences and bring these topics to the fore, we will draw together insights from our panellists to zoom in on the current state of play across Asia in 2023, encouraging questions and comments from the audience to help us answer the question: are our approaches to assessment impeding, driving or improving our learning systems in Asia?