Professor Barry O’Sullivan – The British Council
Aligning EAP Tests to the CEFR. How hard can it be?
Live ZOOM Presentation with Q&A

I’d love to say that aligning test to the CEFR, or to any national or international standard, is easy. It’s not. To do it properly takes time and resources, both human and financial. But it can be and has been done, sometimes spectacularly well, sometimes spectacularly badly.

In this talk, I will discuss, with examples, an approach that has been successfully used in a number of projects over the past decade or more. This approach involves a three-phase process in which the developer first compares the test with the standard. This entails an in-depth analysis of each test task or item in which an explicit link to the standard is identified. If there is sufficient evidence to support a claim of a link between the test and the standard at this stage the project can continue. The next phase is called standard setting. This is where a panel of people reviews each question in the test and establishes the cut-off points that mark the link between the test and the standards. If this is deemed successful, we proceed to the final stage where the developer gathers additional information to support the claimed cut-off scores.

Professor Barry O’Sullivan is head of assessment research & development at the British Council where he was responsible for the design and development of the Aptis test service. He has undertaken research across many areas on language testing and assessment and its history and has worked on the development and refinement of the socio-cognitive model of test development and validation since 2000. He is particularly interested in the communication of test validation and in test localisation. He has presented his work at many conferences around the world, while almost 100 of his publications have appeared in a range of international journals, books and technical reports. He has worked on many test development and validation projects over the past 25 years and advises ministries and institutions on assessment policy and practice.

He is the founding president of the UK Association of Language Testing and Assessment (UKALTA) and holds honorary and visiting chairs at a number of universities globally. In 2016 he was awarded fellowship of the Academy of Social Science in the UK, and was elected to Fellowship of the Asian Association for Language Assessment in 2017.