Language Testing

Language Testing Validity

With over 30 years in the language services business, ALTA has built a reputation as a trusted provider of valid and reliable language tests. Our clients depend on us to help them create defensible assessment programs whether through the use of our standard language tests, or through the customization of tests specifically for their companies, organizations, or agencies.

What are Validity and Reliability?

Validity and reliability are the two most important aspects of any testing program, because without them, the tests are meaningless. Validity refers to the ability of the test to measure what it purports to measure. Reliability is the ability of the test to be repeated and yield consistent results. For instance, imagine that a driving test asked you about banking and finance terms. Would that test be valid? Similarly, think about stepping on a scale and getting a different reading every time. Would that scale be reliable? In both cases, the results would be useless since they cannot be interpreted in a meaningful way. ALTA’s job is to create valid and reliable tests that deliver meaningful results so that you can defensibly make decisions about your candidates.


Job Analysis

ALTA’s Job Analysis is the first step for many companies in determining which type of test is right for them, and the cut score on ALTA’s scale to use to determine who is selected for the job and who is not. The job analysis consists of an in-depth review of documentation and interviews with employees who perform and supervise the position, i.e., your subject matter experts. Using this two-pronged approach, ALTA can identify the tasks in which the language is used and the level of proficiency needed to perform those tasks. Following the interviews and document review process, we provide you with a report detailing our findings and recommendations. This gives you a solid foundation for deciding how you use the test results, and provides the defensibility you need should these decisions ever be challenged.


Standard and Customized Assessments

In most cases, our clients use ALTA’s standard language tests. These exams measure general proficiency in the target language and only assume that candidates will be able to integrate any job-specific terminology into their communication. However, some clients want to verify that their employees can converse or write about topics that arise in their business situations, and can understand their unique terminology. In these cases, ALTA will provide customized tests. Customization may include modifying a standard test to include prompts that mirror the types of scenarios an employee may encounter on the job, or may simply verify knowledge of terminology in English and the target language.

Valid & Reliable

How Valid and Reliable Tests are Created

When designing and creating a test, many steps go into making sure that it is valid (i.e., measures what it purports to measure) and reliable (i.e., it can be repeated and will yield consistent results). In total, there are 9 major steps:

To identify what is required to successfully perform the job, ALTA engages your subject matter experts who have in-depth knowledge of the position in a job analysis.

This document serves as the foundation for creating the test. It describes the content that must be included in the test based on the KSAs identified in Step 1.

Developers follow the specifications to create the test questions.

Preliminary test items are reviewed and any changes that need to be made are noted. This process continues until a final set of questions is complete.

Using the final test version, the questions are tried out on a group of test-takers to ensure they perform properly.

Based on the results of the pilot, an operational test form is created.

This step involves assembling a panel to make judgments regarding the number of questions the minimally qualified candidate would be able to answer correctly.

Using the operational version, the test is administered to the test-takers and the cut-score is employed to determine qualified versus unqualified candidates.

Quality assurance is the responsibility of the test administrator, and is an ongoing step. The administrator ensures that items continue to perform properly, and monitor the test for overexposure.

Contact Us

Contact Language Testing

Interested in our language testing or have questions? Complete the form to receive to contact an ALTA representative, or call us at 1-888-624-6165.

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