Barry O’Sullivan

Professor Barry O’Sullivan is the Head of Assessment Research and Development at the British Council. He has researched factors affecting spoken performance; assessing rater behaviour; assessing speaking and writing; specific purpose assessment; benchmarking and standards; and has worked on the development and refinement of the socio-cognitive model of test development and validation since 2000. He has presented his work at over 150 conferences around the world, while over 90 of his publications have appeared in a range of international journals, and in many books and technical reports. In addition, he has published five books in the area of language testing. He is the founding president of the UK Association of Language Testing and Assessment and holds honorary and visiting chairs at the Universities of Reading and Roehampton (UK) and at the University of Lisbon (Portugal). In 2016 he was awarded fellowship of the Academy of Social Science in the UK. 

Abstract: Establishing Principles and Procedures for Linking Examinations to the China Standards of English

To ensure the appropriate use of a test within an education system, it is necessary to generate evidence of a meaningful link between the test and the underlying standards upon which the system’s curriculum is based. This is done in order to create a positive impact on the learning system by ensuring that there is a connection between its three key elements: the curriculum, the delivery of the curriculum and the assessments used within the system. 

This year marks the launch of the Chinese Standards of English (CSE). The CSE, which is expected to have a significant impact on the English language education system in China in the coming years, is underpinned by a clearly defined socio-cognitive language model and as therefore fits extremely well with the socio-cognitive (SC) model for test development and validation (Weir, 2005: O’Sullivan, 2011, 2016) that has been used successfully in projects  linking tests to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in the past (e.g. O’Sullivan, 2009, 2015). 

In this paper I will present and discuss the principles and procedures adopted in a major project to establish an empirical link between two international tests (Aptis and IELTS) and the CSE. Having first established a socio-cognitive theoretical basis to the linking project, NEEA and the British Council worked together to set out detailed procedures to allow for a comprehensive and valid linking claim to be made for each of the tests. The design and preliminary stages of the project are discussed and reflected on in order to demonstrate the comprehensive nature of the work undertaken.