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(In) Agency of EFL teachers under the negative backwash effect of centralized tests

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Author(s): A. Mehdi Riazi | Kiomars Razavipour

Journal: International Journal of Language Studies
ISSN 2157-4898

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 123;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Backwash effect | EFL teachers’ agency | Assessment literacy | Test construction | Iranian EFL context

ABSTRACT
This paper reports a study which investigated the effect of centralized English tests on one of the immediate stakeholders, namely, teachers. Data for the study were collected from 20 high school English language teachers by administering an assessment literacy test and conducting face to face interviews. Moreover, centralized and teacher-made tests were collected for the purpose of content analysis. Findings from the analysis of the three data sources showed that (a) participants’ level of assessment literacy as measured by an assessment literacy test was lower than expected, (b) participants’ test construction practices were heavily influenced by the content and format of centralized summative tests, and (c) participants’ teaching practices were in fact preparing students for tests with less emphasis on oral/aural skills. The paper concludes that the heavy shadow of centralized tests and their strong negative backwash effect have downplayed teachers’ agency in favor of the dominant structure.

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