The East Coast Organization of Language Testers (ECOLT) held its 20th annual conference remotely on October 22-23, 2021. ECOLT represents a U.S. East Coast group of professionals, scholars, and students who are involved in language testing projects and research. One of the organization’s goals is to support connections between academia, K-12 education, government, and for-profit and not-for-profit testing organizations.
Eighteen research papers and 13 poster presentations were given during the two days of the conference. Speakers included researchers from testing agencies and universities as well as graduate students. Presenters covered a variety of topics, ranging from scoring and task design to analysis of linguistic features of test-taker responses and assessment practices of teachers.
In addition to providing a forum for continued learning and networking, ECOLT strongly supports the work of graduate students. A highlight of the conference is the Best Student Paper Award. This year’s winners were Yunjung Yunie Ku, Caitlyn Pineault, and Negar Siyari from Georgetown University for their presentation entitled “How Language Skills Relate: Investigating Students’ Perceptions of Speaking Performance in Light of TOEIC Scores.”
The plenary talk was given by TIRF Trustee Spiros Papageorgiou, Managing Senior Research Scientist in the Center for English Language Learning and Assessment at Educational Testing Service. In his talk, entitled “Approaches to Enhancing Test Score Interpretation: Are We Doing a Good Job?”, Spiros described the key steps involved in enhancing score interpretation through different techniques, including their similarities and differences. He also discussed the challenges in building a convincing argument about the relationship between numeric scores and performance levels and descriptors. He argued that approaches to enhancing score interpretation are a key component of test validity, and as such they merit more attention from language testers.
ECOLT makes available materials from past conferences on its website, including the conference schedule and videos of the plenary talks.