New Standard for Assessing Language Proficiency

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Practice for Assessing Language Proficiency Is First New Standard From ASTM Committee F43 on Language Services and Products

W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., July 15, 2011—A new ASTM International standard will provide useful, timely, reliable and reproducible tests of language proficiency for general communication purposes. ASTM F2889, Practice for Assessing Language Proficiency, is the first new standard approved by ASTM International Committee F43 on Language Services and Products. The new standard was developed by Subcommittee F43.04 on Language Testing.

ASTM F2889 describes best practices for the development and use of language tests in the modalities of speaking, listening, reading and writing for assessing ability according to the Federal Interagency Language Roundtable scale.

Dr. Bill Rivers, chief scientist, Integrated Training Solutions, chief linguist, National Language Service Corps, and chairman of F43, says that F2889 will be used by state and federal government agencies that purchase foreign language proficiency tests or that contract for test development or administration. In addition, the standard will be used throughout the broader language service industry in the private sector, as companies seek qualified individuals to work in the field. Customers looking to hire language expertise will also use F2889 to provide criteria for their search.

Rivers notes that because the language industry has grown so rapidly in the last 10 years, with more languages, more services and more customers, that the testing sector of the industry needs F2889 to keep up with growth.

“F2889 ensures that a test developed by Company A provides the same level of quality as a test developed by Company B,” says Rivers.

Committee F43 was formed in October 2010 to bring together members of the language services and products industry and all interested participants are invited to join in its standards developing activities.

“We have identified several activities that we believe need to be undertaken in the coming years, including standards for the development of diagnostic assessments, formative assessments, translation tests, interpreting tests, performance tests and a standard terminology for testing,” says Paul Tucker, vice president of assessment and research, Avant Assessment LLC and chair of F43.04. “Our plan is to begin with the terminology, as this will be an important foundation that will serve as a common point of reference for all of the other standards.”

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Technical Contact: Bill Rivers, Integrated Training Solutions, Arlington, Va., Phone: 240-529-7684;

ASTM Staff Contact: Ashley Wiand, Phone: 610-832-9551;

ASTM PR Contact: Barbara Schindler, Phone: 610-832-9603;                  Release #8916