The DR Congo English state examination: some fundamental validity issues
Katalayi, Godefroid Bantumbandi
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The test context is of paramount importance in language testing as it provides an understanding of the kind of tasks to be included in the test, how these tasks are executed by the test takers and how they can be efficiently administered. The objective of this study was to investigate the extent to which the context of the DR Congo English state examination (ESE) is valid and to come out with some useful suggestions that are likely to improve its validity. Two basic theories, the modern validity theory and the schema theory, informed this study. Weir's (2005) socio-cognitive framework was used to build the validity argument for the evaluation of the English state examination. A mixed method was used where the research design consisted of the combination of both qualitative and quantitative data during the collection and analysis stages. The content document analysis method was used to examine the content of the different state examination papers so as to identify the main features of the test, and the statistic (descriptive) method was used to quantify observations identified in the state examination papers and to evaluate the context validity of the ESE. Three techniques were used to collect the research data: the questionnaire, the test, and the interview. Three main findings of this study were reported: (1) the conditions under which the ESE tasks are performed and the relevance of these tasks to the test domain and characteristics are still far to contribute to the quality of evaluation of high school finalist students; (2) the extent to which the ESE includes tasks that take into consideration the nature of information in the text as well as the knowledge required for completing the task is globally good; (3) the conditions under which the test takes place are poor and these conditions affect the validity of test scores. The study recommends the test developers to approximate test tasks to those students have been exposed to in classroom situations and those they are likely to encounter in real life. It also recommends all the people involved in the administration of the test to adhere to high ethical standards.
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