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A most engaging scholar: Tim McNamara and the role of language testing expertise

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

Published
Publication date22/03/2019
Host publicationSocial perspectives on language testing: Papers in honour of Tim McNamara
EditorsCarsten Roever, Gillian Wigglesworth
Place of PublicationBerlin, Germany
PublisherPeter Lang
Pages217-228
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783631780107, 9783631780114
ISBN (Print)9783631780091
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameLanguage Testing and Evaluation
PublisherPeter Lang

Abstract

Research in language testing often highlights a mismatch of expectations between test developers, who seek to create and maintain the best possible tests for different contexts, and other stakeholders, whose more pragmatic use of tests and test scores may conflict with established testing principles. Discussion of research findings may then point to the importance of improving stakeholders’ language assessment literacy. However, where does responsibility lie for such a project and by what methods is it likely to be achieved? How can the appropriate approach be found between simply asserting that the testing experts know best and underselling the contribution that this field can make to finding real-world solutions?
During his career, Tim McNamara has theorised on and provided critique of policy and practice in language and citizenship testing, and language analysis for the determination of origin of asylum seekers, among many areas of study. He has consistently challenged the field of language testing to look for new ideas beyond its self-imposed borders. In this chapter, we reflect on the need for and implications of active engagement between academic expertise and decision-making processes that have possibly life-changing consequences for those involved.