Language testing means taking decisions: about the test taker's results, but also about the test construct and the measures taken in order to ensure quality. This article takes the German test telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule as an example to illustrate this decision-making process in an academic context. The test is used for university entry; therefore, the main stakeholders are academic and administrative staff as well as international students about to take up their studies in Germany. The test provider had to take the stakeholders' expectations and teaching traditions into account and at the same time identify disagreements and conflicting expectations. In the end, the almost unlimited possible ways of testing in this context had to be narrowed down. While not all decisions which lead to a valid form of assessment can be presented here, we provide an illustration of the key phases: the definition of the test construct, the construction of the test format and the actual examining. There is a special focus on the definition of academic German, especially in view of a very heterogeneous target-group. In addition, concrete examples from the initial test development phase are presented, from defining the format for the writing task to choosing texts for reading and testing grammar. Ongoing work on the test is illustrated by insights into the commissioning of new tasks and the rating of open-ended questions.
About the authors
Sibylle Plassmann is head of test development at telc GmbH and responsible for the programme of telc – language tests in 11 languages. She is an experienced teacher, examiner and teacher trainer for German as a foreign language, especially in academic contexts at the universities of Mainz, Oxford and Leipzig. She also has assessment expertise in the context of migration and integration (Deutsch-Test für Zuwanderer).
Beate Zeidler is senior validation officer at telc GmbH, a not-for-profit company owned by the Deutscher Volkshochschulverband (DVV), the largest adult education association in Germany. She has contributed to the development of Zertifikat Deutsch and other examinations, and is involved in developing the telc Deutsch B2, telc Deutsch C1 and Deutsch-Test für Zuwanderer (German for immigrants) examinations.
©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston