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ERIC Number: ED403277
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-May
Pages: 21
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Validity and Washback in Language Testing.
Messick, Samuel
The concept of "washback," especially prominent in the field of applied linguistics, refers to the extent to which a test influences teachers and learners to do things they would not otherwise necessarily do. Some writers invoke the notion of washback validity, holding that a test's validity should be gauged by the degree to which it has a positive influence on teaching. The complexity and uncontrolled variables of washback make it unsuitable for establishing test validity, but one can turn to the test properties likely to produce washback--authenticity and directness--and explore what they might mean in validity terms. The terms "authentic" and "direct" are most often used in connection with assessments involving realistic simulations or criterion samples. Purportedly authentic and direct performance assessments may not yield positive washback because the ideal forms of authenticity and directness rarely, if ever, exist. Construct underrepresentation and construct-irrelevant variance are present to varying degrees. To facilitate positive washback, an assessment must strive to avoid these two pitfalls. A comprehensive exploration of construct validity and its six distinguishable aspects (content, substantive, structural, generalizability, external, and consequential aspects) demonstrates that validity can be seen as a unified concept with the unifying force being the meaningfulness or interpretability of the test scores and action implications. The principles of unified validity provide a framework for evaluating all educational and psychological measurement, including washback. (Contains 29 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ.