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Fairness of IELTS Test Scores in University Admission

Author(s): Motahar Khodashenas Tavakkoly

Journal: Higher Education Studies
ISSN 1925-4741

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2011;
Original page

In recent years there has been growing theoretical interest in exploring the relationship between the interpretation and use of high-stakes proficiency test scores. In these discussions, the role of institutional test users (or test score consumers) has received only limited attention. This may be due, at least in part, to the lack of consensus in the literature about the degree of responsibility test users have for the valid and ethical interpretation and use of test scores. To date, there has also been very little empirical research on the work of these stakeholders. This article reports on a study focusing on how the International English Language Testing System was used in the selection of students in an EFL context at an Iranian university and the knowledge and beliefs that test users (administrative and academic staff) had about the test. The central issues raised for readers by this paper is the possibility that judgements made on the basis of IELTS may not correlate with the subsequent performance of students, and that flaws or strengths in these performances may be correlated with IELTS scores and the ensuing entry judgements. The results suggested that there were a number of serious flaws in the interpretation and use of test scores at this institution. Recommendations are made for improving the use of English proficiency evidence and the assessment literacy of staff in universities in Iran or other places around the world.
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