Evaluating a high-stakes EFL speaking test: Teachers’ practices and views

Linda Borger

Abstract


In the present paper, teachers’ implementation practices and views of practicality regarding a paired speaking test, part of a high-stakes national test of English as a foreign language (EFL) in the Swedish upper secondary school, were investigated. In Sweden, national tests are centrally developed but internally marked by teachers at the schools where they are administered. Two-hundred and sixty-seven teachers participated in a nation-wide online survey and answered closed and open-ended questions. The responses reflect how teachers implement and perceive the national speaking test in relation to purposes and guidelines. Furthermore, challenges relating to the implementation were also reported. The results showed that there were variations in how the national speaking test was implemented at the local school level. This has clear implications for standardisation, but must be considered in relation to the decentralised school system that the test is embedded in, which requires local decisions to be made and local responsibility to be taken. In addition, many teachers perceived that they did not receive enough support from the school management, indicating that clearer routines and administrative support are needed. Statistical tests were undertaken to explore potential differences related to certain background variables. It was found that school size accounted for some of the variation in teachers’ responses, with teachers at smaller schools perceiving the practical implementation of the oral tests to be more problematic and time-consuming. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings for the practice of high-stakes speaking assessment programs, focusing on the educational context of the current investigation.


Keywords


Swedish national test of English as a foreign language (EFL), paired speaking test, practicality, test administration, validation

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