Context

The growing acceptance of the CEFR has created a situation in which schools and university departments concerned with the teaching and testing of languages are increasingly interested in relating their assessment to the CEFR and its Common Reference Levels. A Council of Europe Manual for relating language examinations to the CEFR has extensively described the process of linking tests and examinations to the CEFR. The results of the piloting phase of the preliminary draft of this Manual conducted by the Language Policy Division have shown that there is a need for training in applying the proposed procedures and using the supporting tools in order to achieve the desired goals of improvement in quality and transparency of language assessment. This need has been addressed in the first stage of the RelEx project through a workshop held at the ECML in Graz in May 2009. This workshop has resulted in the development of training materials and a first draft of an introductory document accompanying the Manual.   

In the new ClassRelEx project the needs of the teachers are addressed when they wish to relate their assessment materials to the CEFR. Examinations and certificates need to be linked by assessment specialists following the procedures suggested in the Manual mentioned above. For teachers ,less specialized in assessment, the procedures as proposed in the Manual may be overarching. Yet the Manual contains sufficient interesting material for teachers to help link their school-based, low-stakes assessment to the CEFR in a valid way.

The ClassRelEx project will make use of the experiences gathered and the materials developed in the RelEx project. 
 

The growing acceptance of the Common Reference Levels of language proficiency presented in the CEFR has created a situation in which public bodies, examination institutes, language schools and university departments concerned with the teaching and testing of languages are increasingly interested in relating their curricula and examinations to the Common Reference Levels. A problem that arises in this regard is the question of assuring a consistent interpretation of the levels in different contexts. A Council of Europe Manual for relating language examinations to the CEFR, currently under revision after piloting and to be published in its final version in 2008, envisages the process of linking an examination to the CEFR in five stages:

(1) Familiarisation with the Descriptive Scheme and the Common Reference Level system of the CEFR; 
(2) Specification of the examination content in categories of the CEFR; 
(3) Standardisation and Training in the interpretation of the Common Reference Levels, using illustrative test items and samples of performances already calibrated to the CEFR; 
(4) Standard-setting: the establishment of decision rules to allocate students to one of the CEFR-levels; 
(5) Validation of the relationship to the levels of the CEFR.

The results of the piloting phase of the preliminary draft of the Manual conducted by the Language Policy Division (with almost 40 institutions from 20 Council of Europe member states participating) have shown that it is a useful tool but at the same time that there is a need for training in applying the proposed procedures and using the supporting tools in order to achieve the desired goals of improvement in quality and transparency of language assessment. This need is going to be addressed with this project.    

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