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Fremdsprachenkompetenz – Der Schlüssel zur Tür nach Europa Kloster Banz 26. Oktober 2006 Language Testing and Teacher Training — A Swedish Example. Gudrun Erickson Göteborg University, Sweden Dept. of Education; Language and Literature Unit The Swedish School System.

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Fremdsprachenkompetenz – Der Schlüssel zur Tür nach EuropaKloster Banz26. Oktober 2006Language Testingand Teacher Training—A Swedish Example

Gudrun Erickson

Göteborg University, Sweden

Dept. of Education; Language and Literature Unit

the swedish school system
The Swedish School System
  • 9-year compulsory school — Gesamtschule
  • 98% continue to three-year upper secondary education (c. 75 % graduate) — Core subjects

• National curricula and syllabuses for subjects

  • Grading from year 8 — to be year 6…
  • Goal/criterion referenced grading system; four grade levels — to be more…
  • Teachers responsible for grading
  • Grades used for selection for higher education
  • Extensive national testing programme
levels in national test development process
”Levels” in national test development process


The Ministry of Education

The Swedish National Agency for Education

Different universities in the country

Göteborg University: Foreign languages

aims of national assessment strong advisory function
Aims of national assessment—[Strong] Advisory function
  • Enhance educational achievement
  • Clarify goals; indicate strengths and weaknesses in individual learner profiles
  • Concretize goals and grading criteria
  • Enhance equity and fairness in assessment and grading
  • Provide statistics for local and national analyses of educational achievement

Formative and summative materials

foreign languages in swedish schools
Foreign Languages in Swedish Schools
  • English compulsory from primary level

• [Optional] Second FL in compulsory school; approx. 80 % start, 62 % complete their studies – German, Spanish, French

• English compulsory in upper secondary education — a core subject

• Second FL compulsory in more academically oriented programs in upper sec. (Fr, Ger, Sp + e.g. Italian, Russian, Chinese…)

national test materials of fl
National Test Materials of FL


  • Subject test for grade 5 (11-year-olds)
  • Diagnostic material for grades 6-9 (12-15-year-olds)
  • Subject test for grade 9 (16-year-olds) / end of compulsory school
  • Summative tests for two courses in upper sec. ed. (A + B)
  • Self-assessment material for course A
  • Illustrative materials for [advanced] productive skills (C)

French, German, Spanish

• Summative materials for two courses in upper sec. ed.

• Illustrative materials for productive skills

• Under development: formative (diagnostic) + summative materials for compulsory school

focal areas in the national syllabuses of fl
Focal areas in the national syllabuses of FL

Receptive competence

Productive competence

Interactive competence

Intercultural communicative competence

Reflective competence

7 stages of proficiency

the swedish syllabus for fl and the cefr a tentative textual comparison
The Swedish syllabus for FL and the CEFR:A tentative [textual] comparison


(entrance levels)

1 A1 – A2

2 A2

3 A2 –B1

4 B1

5 B1 – B2

6 B2

7 B2 – C1

the typical national fl test
The typical national FL test

Four subtests — Target language only (instructions, questions, answers)

  • Oral production and interaction (paired or group oral)
  • Reception: Listening comprehension

• Reception : Reading comprehension

  • Written production (and interaction)

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

• Culture in a wide sense, an integrated aspectof test content and design

• Reflection, e.g. self assessment, focused upon in several materials

• Results / Sub-scores presented in profiles

• Model provided for aggregation into total score

Extensive guidelines for teachers. Benchmarked examples of oral and written production and interaction, incl. reasoning and comments based on goals, grading criteria and pre-defined analytic factors.

basic principles for national test development
Basic principles for national test development
  • Pedagogical considerations – Assessment of and for learning
  • Enhancing validity and reliability, avoiding bias
  • Broad coverage of the construct – multi-faceted, varied, monolingual tests
  • Giving students the opportunity to show what they can do with their language, rather than focusing on what they cannot do
  • Making what is most important assessable, notprioritizing what is easily measurable
basic principles for test development cont d
Basic principles for test development (cont’d)
  • Presenting individual results in profiles
  • Focusing first on strengths, then on weaknesses
  • Distinguishing between errors that [may] disturb, and errors that destroy communication


• A collaborative approach to test development

• Large-scale pretesting of all materials

• An eclectic approach to method (“Q +Q”)

development process
Development Process
  • Analyses of relevant literature and research
  • Continuous cooperation with ’broad’ expert groups
  • Small-scale piloting > Adjustments
  • Large-scale pretesting in randomly selected groups of students in the country (n ≈ 400 per task)
  • Analyses of results AND of students’ and teachers’ views and suggestions (“the q + q approach”)
  • Compilation of tests
  • Standard setting and benchmarking in broad groups of experts
reactions to national tests
Reactions to national tests
  • Students generally positive to varied, authentic tasks – not too easy, not too difficult
  • > 95 % of teachers positive to the national tests

function, content, level of difficulty, guidelines, profiles, layout

• [Teacher] discussions about

workload; practical aspects of oral testing; standards; linguistic requirements

• [Political] discussions about

role of national tests (correlation with final grades); confidentiality; costs

four lines of research
Four Lines of Research



Test-taker feedback


national assessment in sweden challenges
National assessment in Sweden: Challenges
  • Coping with multiple aims
  • Balancing implementation and prescription
  • Bridging the gap between formative and summative assessment
  • Further developing methods of collaboration with different stakeholders, e.g. students
  • Emphasizing further the pedagogical potential of assessment for efficient and positive learning
  • Increasing assessment competence and confidence among teachers
  • Analyzing further the relationship between the Swedish syllabuses and the CEFR
language subject teacher education in sweden two models
Language (Subject) Teacher Educationin Sweden:Two models

I. Language studies, didactics and teaching practice integrated (4.5 – 5.5 years)

II. Language studies —

Didactics and teaching practice as a separate programme (1.5 years)

(often older students with work experience)

Subject teachers normally teach two subjects

testing and assessment in teacher training
Testing and Assessment in Teacher Training

Considerable variation between different universities

Strong criticism from the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education of too little emphasis on assessment and grading in teacher training programmes

Growing interest in assessment issues, in pre- and in-service training

Considerable increase of budget from the new government for teacher pre- and in-service training, including assessment and grading

example of structure pre and inservice training
Example of structurePre- and inservice training

• General lecture(s) on assessment and testing

(construct/rubric; validity/reliability; formative/summative; “the joint venture”; assessment of/for learning; washback; rating/grading, …)

• Literature seminars and workshops

(Designing tasks for different constructs and different purposes; rating tasks — focusing on inter- and intra- rater reliability; national tests; benchmarks/ standards; CEFR / ELP, …)

• Assignments during teaching practice / in practice

• Follow-up seminars based on practical examples

ealta guidelines for good practice in language testing and assessment
EALTA* Guidelines for Good Practice in Language Testing and Assessment

Three categories/“audiences”:

• Teacher pre- and in-service training

• Classroom assessment

• Test development in national or institutionaltesting units or centres

Basic principles the same for all categories:

Respect for students/examinees, responsibility, fairness, reliability, validity, collaboration among the parties involved

* European Association for Language Testing and Assessment

EALTA GuidelinesConsiderations for teacher pre-service and in-service training in language testing and assessmentExamples

• How aware are trainees made of the range of assessment procedures appropriate to their present or future needs?

• What is the balance between theory and practice in the training?

• How far are the trainees involved in developing, trialling and evaluating assessment procedures?

• How far do assessment procedures used to evaluate the trainees follow the principles they have been taught?

ealta guidelines considerations for classroom testing and assessment examples
EALTA GuidelinesConsiderations for classroom testing and assessmentExamples


• What is the purpose of the assessment?

• How does the assessment purpose relate to the curriculum?


• Who designs the assessment procedures?

• What account is taken of students’ views on the assessment procedures?


• What use is made of the results?

• What are the consequences of the results of the assessment for learners?

EALTA GuidelinesConsiderations for test development in national or institutional testing units or centresExamples








european student 2005
European student 2005:

“I think that a good language test/ assessment should get students chance to show what they know and devolope their skills. It should contain of listening and reading comprehations, as well as writing and grammar part. But the most important thing is to speak in that language, so I think there should be also oral exams. Speaking is the most important, because without it, we wouldn’t communicate. Because of that students should also learn pronunciation.”

matters to discuss
Matters to discuss

• Formative and summative assessment / classroom assessment and exams: similarities and differences?

• Influence from tests and testing on learning and teaching: positive, negative — inevitable…?

• Effective ways of supporting teachers in their different assessment activities and practices

• The role of students in testing and assessment

• “Making what is most important assessable, notprioritizing what is easily measurable” – effects and implications?

• TheEALTAGuidelines for Good Practice in Language Testing and Assessment