The Nature of Test Validity

  • Cyril J. Weir
Part of the Research and Practice in Applied Linguistics book series (RPAL)


By the end of the twentieth century Cambridge ESOL was addressing the reliability as well as the more traditional validity aspects of its examinations. Their earlier concern with construct validity was now matched by an equal regard for reliability, at least from the 1980s, in the UK. In the wider testing world, exam providers such as TOEFL had also begun to acknowledge the legitimacy of the socio-cognitive elements of validity and devoted the attention to them that they had always paid to the reliability aspect. The commitment to continually improve validity exhibited by Cambridge ESOI. and Educational Testing Service (ETS) TOEFL examinations is encouraging, but the picture is very different for many other examining boards.


Construct Validity Test Validity Validity Evidence Language Testing Content Coverage 
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Further reading

  1. Bachman (1990) is the significant book in the field, which tackles modern language testing in a serious and rigorous fashion. Hard-going in parts, but well worth the effort.Google Scholar
  2. Bachman and Palmer (1996) is an update on 1990, but with a more practical focus.Google Scholar
  3. Hughes, Porter and Weir (1988) provide an early but still useful discussion of validation in relation to the British Council ELTS test.Google Scholar
  4. Kunnan (ed.) (1998) is a useful collection of papers on validation in language assessment. Kunnan (Chapter 1) provides an overview of validation studies in language assessment carried out up to 1996, categorized in relation to Messick’s (1989) progressive matrix of validity.Google Scholar
  5. Nitko (2001) discusses these concepts in an educational measurement context.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cyril J. Weir 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cyril J. Weir
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Research in Testing, Evaluation and Curriculum (CRTEC)Roehampton UniversityUK

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