Dr Gad Lim is Principal Research Manager at Cambridge English Language Assessment, where he leads research on the assessment of writing, on standard setting and on IELTS. His research is informed by many years of experience as an examiner, item writer, test designer, and test development manager. He has taught in higher education and trained language teachers in Asia, Australia, North America, and Europe. Gad reviews for all major language testing journals and has presented and published on language teaching, EAP, performance assessment, raters and rating scales, test validation, standard setting, and on the CEFR. His PhD is from the University of Michigan.
Standardised Tests in Support of Language Improvement in School Systems: Insights from Elsewhere in Education
One of the questions posed by this year’s conference theme is: What role might standardised tests and performance-based tests have in supporting East Asian countries’ desires to improve their learners’ and teachers’ language proficiency, given the negative consequences and practical challenges attached to the use of such tests?
In this paper, I draw from the work of theorists in education policy, who have considered the different ways in which educational ideals—such as excellence, equity and equality—might conflict with one another, and the way that policy might go about resolving those conflicts. I apply their thinking to the question of improving language proficiency at the level of education systems, which will help to illuminate the place of standardised tests in those efforts so that they maximally contribute to the achievement of those goals. It will be seen that the pursuit of excellence—of policies that focus single-mindedly on learning and supporting learning, the specific meaning of which I will define—is the best guarantee of achieving those goals in the long run.