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BAAL TEASIG Online Conference
17th September 2021

Test fairness in a digital age - BAAL TEASIG.png
BAAL TEASIG's annual online conference is here! 

This year's theme is  ‘Test fairness in a digital age.’ The conference will be of interest to those researching or working directly in the field of language assessment, and also to those for whom language assessments may be part of a wider picture of their work such as setting parameters on university admissions, awarding visas, testing remotely and creative uses of IT.
Conference programme (all times are current UK times)
09:00 - Conference opening
09:10 - Invited speaker
Dr Daniel Isbell.jpg

Dr Daniel Isbell (University of Hawai'i, USA)

Assistant Professor, Department of Second Languages

There’s no going back now:
Fairness and justice in the new language testing landscape


In the wake of Covid-19, language testing finds itself rather suddenly in an era where computer- delivered and at-home test administration is commonplace rather than a peculiarity (Isbell & Kremmel, 2020). It is worth noting that at-home language testing pre-dates Covid-19, and in that sense Covid is best seen as accelerating a trend. More importantly, it would seem there’s no
going back now: the widespread adoption, commercial success, and test-taker benefits of at-home tests may have fundamentally altered the language testing landscape.

Matters of construct validity for high-stakes, computer-delivered language tests have been extensively investigated, with basic concerns like typing skill and computer familiarity accounted for and issues related to computerized delivery and scoring of test tasks increasingly well understood. Similarly, with respect to at-home administration, large-scale comparisons of score distributions across test-centre and at-home language test administrations have already been hashed out by psychometricians (e.g., Zumbo, 2021).


We are less focused on and less prepared to grapple with issues of fairness and justice in at-home language testing. While we have good frameworks for thinking about fairness and justice in language testing (e.g., Kunnan, 2018), we must now contend with variations and possibilities in high-stakes testing that have only recently become ubiquitous enough to warrant broad concern. In this talk, I highlight what I see as key, (re)emerging concerns for fairness and justice of high- stakes language tests in the remote age, including construct and decision comparability, proctoring and privacy, public health, internet and communications infrastructure, and geographic/temporal/financial access to testing services.

09:50 - Presentations 1 and 2

1. Sonja Zimmermann (TestDaF-Institut, Germany)

Test-takers’ perception of the digital Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache (Test of German as a Foreign Language)

2. David Booth (Pearson, UK)

How to make secure online delivery work

10:40 - Break
10:50 - Voting on the new BAAL TEASIG committee positions
11:00 - Presentations 3, 4, 5

3. Azrifah Zakaria, Vahid Aryadoust (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Machine learning for language assessment: assumptions and fairness

4. Fabiana MacMillan, Ahyoung Kim, Jason Kemp (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

Questions of fairness in remote testing of K-12 English learners: developments, challenges, and recommendations

5. Barry O'Sullivan, Trevor Breakspear, William Bayliss (British Council, UK & China)

Validating a language test's auto-scoring model 

12:15 - Panel discussion on 'Test fairness in a digital age'
12:40 - BAAL TEASIG AGM and voting results
13:00 - Conference close
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