Testing a Nation
Many countries have national policies in relation to English language teaching that are monitored through standardized tests, and students’ performance in these tests may have a significant impact on their career prospects. When such high stakes become attached to a language test, it begins to play a far greater role than originally intended.
A preeminent example is the College English Test (CET), taken biannually by upwards of ten million students in China, which makes it the world’s largest national English test. Its impact is evident in many areas of Chinese society. Specified grades on the CET are requirements for graduation from universities, many job applications and even some residence permits. Consolidated CET results are widely used for rating teachers for promotion and for competitively grading institutions, hence influencing strategic planning by universities, government departments and companies, particularly those engaged in publishing or bookselling. The CET has, furthermore, given rise to a highly organized cheating ‘industry’, which is the subject of frequent governmental disclaimers and warnings.
This book reports on an extensive study of the impact of the CET in China, both on the lives of students and teachers and on educational and governmental institutions. The authors also draw theoretical and practical implications from their study for educational planners in other countries.
Mark Garner is Director of the Centre for Language Assessment Research at the University of Roehampton, UK. He has taught applied linguistics, communication theory and research methodology at universities in four countries and has published widely on a range of topics in those fields.
Dayong Huang is Vice Dean of the School of Foreign Languages at Civil Aviation Flight University of China. He has taught linguistics, language testing and aviation English and has published on language testing and aviation English teaching and testing. He holds a PhD from the University of Aberdeen, UK.