Megan Yucel, ICTE-UQ
Developing high quality reading tests: The test development cycle

With the rise in popularity of direct entry programs at Australian universities, university English language centres are faced with the challenge of ensuring that the assessment instruments used in these courses are valid, reliable, and fair. Furthermore, the assessment outcomes must be comparable to other measures of English language proficiency used for university admission purposes. Once the need to produce a receptive skills test with a gatekeeping function has been identified, the task of developing a test of this nature in-house can be daunting.

The ICTE-UQ Bridging English Program (BEP) provides direct entry to undergraduate, postgraduate and Study Abroad programs at The University of Queensland (UQ). In recent years, the ICTE-UQ assessment team has been working to develop in-house tests of receptive skills as part of the BEP suite of assessment instruments.

This session aims to provide participants with a practical blueprint in how to develop high-quality in-house reading tests for their institution. In the session, a summary of the process through which the BEP reading comprehension test was developed will be shared. This included decisions about test purpose, test construct and inferences to be drawn from test scores. Building on this conceptual framework, the team developed test specifications, recruited and trained item writers, and began producing items. The presenter will discuss the development cycle which a BEP reading test must pass through before going live and which includes a number of essential stages. Practical advice will also be given on text and task selection, and writing reading test items.

Megan Yucel teaches at the Institute of Continuing and TESOL Education of The University of Queensland (UQ-ICTE). During the course of her career, she has worked as a teacher, lecturer, examiner, trainer, and test writer in Turkey, the UK, and Australia. She has a Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults from the University of Cambridge and a Masters in Applied Linguistics (TESOL) from Macquarie University. Megan is currently doing a PhD at The University of Queensland in the area of English language assessment.