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September/October 2011
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Assessing Language Proficiency

ASTM International Committee F43 on Language Services and Products has published its first new standard, F2889, Practice for Assessing Language Proficiency. F2889 was developed by Subcommittee F43.04 on Language Testing. F43 was formed in October 2010 to bring together members of the language services and products industry.

F2889 describes best practices for the development and use of language tests in the modalities of speaking, listening, reading and writing for assessing ability according to the Federal Interagency Language Roundtable scale.

Bill Rivers, chief scientist, Integrated Training Solutions, chief linguist, National Language Service Corps and chairman of F43, says that F2889 will be used by state and federal government agencies that purchase foreign language proficiency tests or that contract for test development or administration. In addition, the standard will be used throughout the broader language service industry in the private sector as companies seek qualified individuals to work in the field. Customers looking to hire language expert will also use F2889 to provide criteria for their search.

“F2889 ensures that a test developed by company A provides the same level of quality as a test developed by company B,” says Rivers.

All interested participants are invited to join in the work of F43.04.

“We have identified several activities that we believe need to be undertaken in the coming years, including standards for the development of diagnostic assessments, formative assessments, translation tests, interpreting tests, performance tests and a standard terminology for testing,” says Paul Tucker, vice president of assessment and research, Avant Assessment LLC, and chairman of F43.04. “Our plan is to begin with the terminology, as this will be an important foundation that will serve as a common point of reference for all of the other standards.”

CONTACT

Technical Information: Bill Rivers, Integrated Training Solutions, Arlington, Va.

Phone: 240-529-7684

ASTM Staff: Ashley Wiand

Phone: 610-832-9551