by Dr. Nathaniel Owen
Summarising text is a crucial skill in both academic and professional domains. It is often taught at universities in pre-sessional or in-sessional courses. Yet this skill is overlooked in high-stakes tests of English as a foreign language. As a result, summarising is not a skill which is taught to students before they take a test. This session will present the development of an innovative intertextual reading-into-writing summary task for level C1 of the CEFR for the new Oxford Test of English Advanced test. The session will cover how OUP designed the task from conception using CEFR companion volume (2020) descriptors centred on mediation and how OUP aligned the test to the CEFR using guidelines from the Manual for linking tests to the CEFR (2009) and the new Handbook for Aligning Language Education with the CEFR (2022). To align the task to the CEFR, we use a combination of test-centred and examinee-centred approaches. We used the Handbook’s approach to alignment, involving external expert participants to conduct familiarisation, standardisation and empirical validation (standard setting), with specification conducted in-house. Eight trained judges provided ratings using a new rating scale for four writing tasks and 24 test taker scripts, which were collected online via Microsoft Teams. The judges provided CEFR-level judgements for input texts, overall estimated task difficulty and performance of test taker scripts. We also collected qualitative data from participants in which they justify the CEFR bands they award each task/sample. The session concludes by presenting the findings from this research and recommendations for good test preparation practice. The use of external tests for university and employment significantly affects the work of teachers in schools, and the expectations of learners. If new test tasks like the summary task can be developed to promote positive classroom-based learning, these tasks are more likely to lead to an emphasis on acquiring the target skills without engaging in repetitive test preparation practices (Grabe and Stoller, 2013).