Incongruence Between Native and Test Administration Languages: Towards Equal Opportunity in International Literacy Assessment

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assessment, cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, international, language, literacy, OECD, PISA

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Previous research has primarily addressed the effects of language on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) mathematics and science assessments. More recent research has focused on the effects of language on PISA reading comprehension and literacy assessments on student populations in specific Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and non-OECD countries. Recognizing calls to highlight the impact of language on student PISA reading performance across countries, the purpose of this study was to examine the effect of home languages versus test languages on PISA reading literacy across OECD and non-OECD economies, while considering other factors. The results of Ordinary Least Squares regression showed that about half of the economies demonstrated a positive and significant effect of students' language status on their reading performance. This finding is consistent with observations in the parallel analysis of PISA 2009 data, suggesting that students' performance on reading literacy assessment was higher when they were tested in their home language. Our findings highlight the importance of the role of context, the need for new approaches to test translation, and the potential similarities in language status for youth from OECD and non-OECD countries that have implications for interpreting their PISA reading literacy assessments.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Testing, v. 18, issue 3, p. 276-296