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Analyzing Closely a Sample Study of Language Testing (Summative Test) of Elementary school

Initial remarks "Language Testing is the practice and study of evaluating the proficiency of an individual in using a particular language effectively." Priscilla Allen, from University of Washington, argues this definition. In a broader sense Alan Davies from University of Edinburg argued that language testing is the activity of developing and using language tests. Concerning to this issue, It is commonly believed that the importance of conducting tests is that teachers are capable of evaluating the effectiveness of the syllabus and the methods and materials they are using. In broader standpoints we can have tests as very useful information about peoples language abilitywhat they have achieved- and as measurement tools of professionals language proficiency (ex. translators and interpreters). In line with the good criterion for the test, Hughes (2003) argues that the testing conducted should represent the objective of the course given. This essay discusses the English testing in Elementary school to response the issues mentioned above. Discussing testing in this context is rather different because the Elementary school students are categorized as young learners. It is common place that the reason of why we test the children is that we want to be sure that the teaching program is effective, that the children are really benefitting from the chance to learn a language at an early age. At the beginning of this essay, the principles of a good testing will be briefly described as proposed by several experts such as: Brian K. Lynch (2003), Arthur Hughes (2003), Tim McNamara and Carsten Roever (2006), H. Douglas Brown (2001), Dick Alwright (1993), J.B Heaton (1995), Jeremy Harmer (2001), and Jerry G. Gebhard (1996). Later on the intention and reality of English summative test in an Elementary school is the issued discussed based on an interview with an English teacher in the area municipality of Mangku Bumi In the last, an example of an alternative assessment which is proposed better to be implemented to test the students of acquiring English will be given in this essay. I. Principles of a good Testing As it has already mentioned above, The reason of why we test the children is that we want to be sure that the teaching program is effective, that the children are really benefitting from the chance to learn a language at an early age. Such testing provides an opportunity to develop positive attitudes towards assessment, to help them recognize the value of assessment. In line with this issue, there are several recommendations of good test criterion such as: Hughes (2003), Tim McNamara and Carsten Roever (2006), J.B Heaton (1995), Jeremy Harmer (2001) and H Doughlas Brown (2001). In which all of them recommended the description/ criterion of what a good test is. In response to this issues, Brown (2001) elaborates the principles for designing effective classroom test. He elaborated that the strategies for test-taker referred to what is mentioned by Page | 1

Swain (1984) as bias for best, in which three consideration: before-, during-, and after-test option as follow: Before the Test 1. Give students all the information you can about the test. Exactly what will the test cover? Which topics will be the most important? What kind of items will be included? How long will it be? 2. Encourage students to do a systematic review of material. For example: skim the textbook and other material, outline major points, write down example, etc. 3. Give them practice tests or exercise, if available. 4. Facilitate formation of a study group, if possible. 5. Caution students to get a good nights rest before a test. 6. Remind the students to get the classroom early. During the Test 1. As soon as the test is distributed, tell students to quickly look over the whole test in order to get a good grasp of its different parts. 2. Remind them to mentally figure out how much time they will need for each part. 3. Advise them to concentrate as carefully as possible. 4. Alert students a few minutes before the end of the class period so that they can proofread their answers, catch careless errors, and still finish on time. After the Test 1. When you return the test, include the feedback on specific things the students did well, what he or she did not do well, and if possible, the reasons for such a judgment on your part 2. Advise the students to pay carefully attention in class to whatever you say about the test results 3. Encourage question from students. 4. Advise students to make plan to pay special attention in the future to point that they are weak on. Therefore the English teacher should be well planned in conducting the test. Page | 2

Due to the Social Values and Policy of Language Assessment McNamara and Roever (2006) elaborated two consideration both the cultural values implicit in such assessments as well as their role in the service of overt political goals. Such values and goalsinfluence both the view of what it is important to assess (the construct) and means for gathering information about it (the assessment procedures). They also gave arguments intended to illuminate two aspects of the social dimension of test present in Messicks discussion of validity: the social and culture values present in test constructs and the consequences of the test in the service of political goals, such as accountability or systemic reform, and the unintended fallout from test. In line with the stages of test development, Hughes in 2003 briefly recommended the stages of test development are these: 1. Make a full and clear statement of the testing problem.

2. Write complete specification for the test. 3. Write and moderate items. 4. Trial the items informally on native speakers and reject or modify problematic ones as necessary. 5. Trial the test on a group of non-native speakers similar to those for whom the test is intended. 6. Analyse the results of the trial and make any necessary changes. 7. Calibrate scales. 8. Validate. 9. Write handbooks for test takers, test users and staff. 10. Train any necessary staff (interviewers, raters, etc.). In order to meet the purpose of testing which is to measure the progress of learning and gives beneficial effect (backwash), Hughes (2003) also gives some suggestion as follows. First is testing students abilities whose development teacher wants to encourage. This can be done by focusing on giving appropriate tasks for a certain testing. Second is using direct testing. This implies the testing of performance skills, with texts and tasks as authentic as possible and third is making testing criterion reference by giving clear specification. The clear specification given helps students to find it clear what to do in the test.

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All of the description above are considering as the central attention of all the teachers in developing the assessment. As already mentioned above, the main aim of assessing is to measure progress toward establishing acquirement outcomes and feedback to increase the process of learning.

II. Intention and Reality of Summative test in Elementary school: An Interview Result The teacher who participated in this study is a male English teacher teaching in one of elementary school in Mangku Bumi. At the time being, he has been teaching English for 5 years and he graduated from English department of Teachers Training and Education faculty. During his teaching in that school (SD Negeri Mangkubumi 2) he teaches almost all the four English skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing). The information of the summative test implementation was gathered through a semistructured interview with open-ended question. It means that the writer will use interview guideline but it can be enhanced due to further discussion about what will be mentioned in the answer (see Kvale, 19960. There are ten questions in the interview, the first five of them are considered as the prior data question 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. How do you develop the test? What kinds of test are given to the students? What is the form of the text usually given? (Essay?, Multiple choice? Ect) How do you give scores to students? What is your opinion towards the test applied? How long have you been teaching in this school? Is your education background suitable to be an English teacher? Do you teach and evaluate the four English skills? Do you always give a remedial? How many times do you conduct a summative test during one semester?

Question one is given in order to know in what way the teacher develop the test (assessment). Question two is given in order to gain information on various ways of assessing conducting by teacher of English within the school. Question three and four deal with the form of test and teachers way of scoring the test. The last question from the first five question considered as the prior information is given to find out the the information related to the teachers opinion toward the test conducted related to the strength and weaknesses of the test given to the students From the result of the interview, the writer finds that the teacher has actually applied various ways of testing his students. Those tests are conducted in a formal and informal form. The form of formal test usually in the form of formative and summative test tests conducted Page | 4

in the middle and the end of the semester. The informal test are given in order to check the students understanding on the material given during one week (given weekly). This kind of test is given in o form of oral or written form. Nevertheless he is only emphasizing the results of formative and summative tests to score the students at the end of the semester. In developing the tests, he uses the basic competence (standar kompetensi) which has already stated in the syllabus as the target of teaching and learning process. This can be inferred that in developing the items of the question, all of the items should be based on the objective or the target of syllabus. (see the above statement of Hughes: a good test should reflect and based on the objectives of the course given in the syllabus. In line with the scoring, the teacher doesnt have difficulty for multiple choice as he only give one score for the correct answer and zero score for incorrect one. In other case he has some difficulties in giving the score for essay test. As the students capabilities are different, he always give the score for the students even tough they are in wrong spelling. With regard to the strength and the weaknesses of the test given, he said that the test does not measure the students real ability because they are given in the form of the multiple choice as Hughes (2003) also said that the weaknesses of the multiple choice are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The technique tests only recognition knowledge, Guessing may have a considerable but unknowable effect on the test score, It is very difficult to write successful items, Backwash may be harmful, and Cheating may be facilitated.

Below are the discussion about the items test given by the teacher in line with the basic competence and indicators developed by the teacher himself. This is taken randomly from the ten lesson plan applied by the teacher Table 1: The Lesson Plan 1 No 1. Components Standar Kompetensi : Membaca Memahami tulisan bahasa Ingris sangat sederhana dalam konteks kelas Kompetensi Dasar : Membaca nyaring dengan melafalkan alphabet dan ucapan yang tepat yang melibatkan katakata, frase dan kalimat yang sangat sederhana. Indikator: Siswa mampu membaca alphabet dalam bahasa ingris Tujuan Pembelajaran: Siswa mampu mengeja kata-kata sederhana. comment Question: Now, please write your name and spell it. Do like example. (tulis dan ejalah nama2 di bawah ini. Kerjakan seperti contoh)




A-N-I-TA ( ei- en ai ti ei) My name:.. () My Fathers name; (..) My Mothers name: (..) Page | 5


Evaluasi: My Brothers name: (..) Listen and write on your book! My Sisters name:. (..) 1. House 2. Orchid 3. Good bye 4. Morning 5. Ship From this kind of evaluation has shown that The teacher has constructed Tujuan Pembelajaran ( the target of teaching) in line with SKKD but evaluation didnt measure the behaviour as what SKKD must do. It tests listening skill. Whereas, the skill implied in SKKD is loud reading or spelling. The test which is line with the SKKD is performance test, that is, the learners are asked to spell or read loudly a certain words, phrase or simple sentences. Table 2. Lesson Plan 4 (randomly taken)

No 1.




Components Standar Kompetensi : berbicara mengungkapkan instruksi dan informasi sangat sederhana dalam konteks kelas. Kompetensi Dasar : Bercakap-cakap untuk meminta/member jasa/barang secara berterima yang melibatkan tindak tutur: meminta bantuan, meminta barang dan memberi barang. Indikator: Siswa mampu berdialog meminta dan memberi barang. Tujuan Pembelajaran: Siswa mampu menjawab soal meminta dan memberi barang.

Comment Question: 1. A: please, take me a book! B: ......... A: thank you B: youre welcome 2. A: please, bring me a pen! B: yes ..... 3. A: .... take me a food! B: sorry, Im busy. 4. A: please, ... me a drink! B: no, I dont. A: its OK. 5. A: please, take me a ruler B: yes, it is your ruler. A: thank you. B: youre welcome.

From this lesson plan we see that the teacher has already do a good evaluation but it does not measure what should be measured in SKKD. Table 3. Analyzing a sample of formal test (summative test) INDICATOR Sisiwa dapat memperkenalkan diri QUESTION ITEM 1. Ali : I have to go now, Doni : .. a. How are you c. Hi b. See you later d. Hello

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INDICATOR QUESTION ITEM Sisiwa dapat bertanya jawab mengenai idetitas 2. The headmaster : Can you the orang lain floor.? Mr. Diki : Sure A. Close c. see B. Sweep d. give INDICATOR QUESTION ITEM Siswa dapat member salam sesuai dengan kondisi secara tepat Diana : Hi, Good afternoon, Andika Andika : Good afternoon, Diana. How are you? Diana : fine, and you? Andika : very well. Where are you going? Diana : Im going to school. I have to go now, see you. Andika : see you Soal nomor 6 sampai 8 sesuai dialog di atas. 3. Andika bertemu Diana pada ...... a. Pagi hari c. Malam hari b. Siang hari d. shubuH INDICATOR QUESTION ITEM Siswa dapat mengungkapkan salam perpisahan 4. Who is going to school? dengan tepat a. Diana c. Diana and Andika b. Andika d. Nobody INDICATOR QUESTION ITEM Siswa dapat bercakap-cakap meminta dan memberi 5. Can you give me the glue, Anton? bantuan secara tepat a. Maukah kau membeli lem? b. Bisakah kamu jual lemnya? c. Bisakah kamu berikan lemnya? d. Biskah kamu lem prangkonya? INDICATOR QUESTION ITEM Siswa dapat bercakap-cakap meminta dan memberi 6. Ali : Excuse me, I would like to send barang secara tepaT. letter. two stamps, please? Postman: Sure, here you are a. May I give c. May I read b. May I have d. May I write INDICATOR QUESTION ITEM Siswa dapat mengungkapkan ungkapan persetujuan 7. Ari : Is that your pen? May I borrow secara tepat it? Lia : Sure Ari : Thank you a. No, it is not c. this is my pen b. Here it is d. youre welcome Page | 7

III. Proposed means of evaluation for Elementary School Young children, especially those up to the age of nine or ten, learn differently from older children, adolescent, and adults in the following ways: 1. They respond to meaning even if they do not understand individual words. 2. They often learn indirectly rather than directly that is they take information from all sides, learning from everything around them rather than only focusing on the precise topic they are being taught. 3. Their understanding comes not just from explanation, but also from what they see and hear and, crucially, have a chance to touch and interact with. 4. They generally display an enthusiasm for learning and a curiosity about the world around them. 5. They have a need from the individual attention and approval from the teacher. 6. They are keen to talk about themselves, and respond well to learning that uses themselves and their own lives as main topics in the classroom. 7. They have a limited attention span; unless activities are extremely engaging they can easily get bored, loosing interest after ten minutes or so. In the light of these characteristics, it can be concluded that a good teacher at an elementary level needs to provide a rich diet of learning experiences which encourages their students to get information from a variety of sources. They need to work with their students individually and in groups developing good relationships. They need to plan a range of activity for a given time period, and be flexible enough to move on the next exercise when they see students getting bored. We can draw a conclusion about what a classroom for elementary school students should look like and what might be going on it. We might expect them to be working on groups in different parts of the classroom. From the interview result and the data, it seems that the tests is not integrated and reflect the type of instruction taking place in the classroom. To be good as already proposed by Linse and Nunan (2005), many oral and written language activities can easily be used for classroom-based assessment. Most teaching activity can be used for assessment when there is criteria, including an aim, as well as feedback mechanism. Before using an activity as a testing tool, it is important to determine what type of assessment information you will gain from the activity. For instance, children may do an activity sheet where they answer questions about the story. Based on the childrens answer, you can determine hoe well they have comprehend the story. We will now look at instructional activities which will help teacher to assess the students progress in the four main language skill.

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Table 4. example of classroom based test for elementary school as young learners No 1 English skill Listening Components to be assessed 1. Phonemic awareness 2. Listening comprehension 1. A holistical rubric 2. Analytical rubric Example of assessment



1. 2. 3. 4. 1. 2.


The students can be assessed by observing them as we give TPR instruction. Students can be assessed by asking them question engaging them in a conversation Ability to comprehend In a story map, students are written text asked to describe the different Decode parts-elements-of a story Sound-out Pronounce the word Eliciting sample of Write a sample (can be fiction writing or nonfiction) consisting of a Examining sample of sentence, paragraph or essay. writing

Beside the activities given above, the teacher can also conduct an assessment in the form of portfolio it is a kind of collection of the students individual work as Gronlund and Engel, 2001 said that portfolio can help the teacher see how individual students grow and develop over time. IV. Conclusion This paper presents the result of an interview in line with the reality of an elementary teacher in assessing the students. To some cases the fact shows that the questions given by the teacher in a test do not really measured the students real abilities in English. To help the teacher to make a test good test is that they must consider the valid and reliable of test by focusing on the problems belowa: 1). Examine the test carefully to determine some of the problem areas. For example, the test may include cultural items the students would have no way of knowing, 2). Make a list of the items that could be unfair for students, 3). Share the list with administrators and/or other decision makers, 4). Contact the test manufacturer to check and see if they are going to create a test which will be valid and reliable for the types of learners in the classes. And the last is by looking at the alternative form of assessment. All of them can be used when assessing the students in formal and classroom based assessment. The assessment should be applied for the four English skill.

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Harmer, J. (2001). The Practice of English Language Tecahing. Pearson Education Limited. Edinburg Gate. Heaton, J.B. (1995). Writing English Language Test. New Edition. Longmann Group UK Limited. Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers. Second edition. Cambrdige University Press. UK. Gebhard, J.G. (Lines, C.T and Nunan, D. (2005). Practical English Language Teaching:Young Learners. Published byMcGraw-Hill, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Lynch, K.B. (2003). Language Assessment and Program Evaluation. Edinburgh University Press. Edinburg. McNamara, T and Roever C. (2006). Language Testing the Social Dimension. Blackwell publisinh ltd. United Kingdom.

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