chapter  1
28 Pages

Models of literacy: the nature of reading tests

Those who have taught or studied English in different parts of the world may well have come across two distinct kinds of reading test. One consists of a relatively small number of passages with tasks that require students to write their own responses. It is generally included in a larger English Language paper, and is found in the school certificate exams of many countries where English is an official language; it will be familiar, too, to anyone educated in Britain before the mid-1980s. The other consists of a larger number of shorter passages, with tasks that require students to select a response from a given set. This kind of test is often administered on its own, and it is a basic educational tool in the United States and in countries that have come under American influence. These two kinds of test represent distinct traditions of assessing literacy skills in English, the British and American, and they have quite different social and ideological origins.