Features of Language Assessment Literacy in Iranian English Language Teachers' Perceptions and Practices

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Language Department, Sheikh Bahaee University, Isfahan, Iran.

2 Department of English, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan.



Language assessment literacy (LAL), mainly defined as knowledge and skills of language assessment, in the last two decades, has started to receive the attention it deserves. As one of the significant findings, based on a plethora of research, many second language (L2) teachers have been indicated to be professionally incompetent in terms of LAL. To investigate the status of LAL among Iranian English teachers, the present study was conducted. Three hundred and nine English teachers participated in answering a questionnaire. Besides, 24 teachers were interviewed based on a semi-structured interview. Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis and interpretation techniques were employed to find answers to the research questions which sought to investigate the features of language assessment literacy in language teachers' perceptions. The findings indicated that, overall, LAL is of concern to Iranian L2 (English) teachers. However, they also agree that their current level of both knowledge and practice in terms of LAL is not ideal. Furthermore, it was found that, as the teachers perceive it, assessment promotes learning and teaching; the nature of teacher-learner relationships affects evaluation; and, testing and assessment are seen as challenging notions due to their mathematical concepts and statistics. The findings will contribute to a more profound perception of LAL and better planning and executing the programs for L2 teachers regarding the issue.


Ahmed, A., & Pollitt, A., & Rose, L. (1999). Assessing Thinking and    Understanding: Can Oral Assessment Provide a Clearer Perspective? Retrieved March 21, 2019, from https://www.researchgate.net /publication /237117218
Armes, J. W., & Popal, S. (2016). Quantifying the Qualitative: Increasing the Reliability of Subjective Language Assessments (Doctoral dissertation, University of San Francisco).
Ayesha, A.  Alastair Pollitt, Leslie Rose. (1999). Assessing Thinking and Understanding: Can Oral Assessment Provide a Clearer Perspective? Paper presented at 8th International Conference on Thinking, Edmonton Canada, July 1999.
Bachman, L. F. (2000). Modern language testing at the turn of the century: assuring that what we count counts — Language Testing, 17(1), 1–42.
Bass, H. (1993). Measuring what counts: A conceptual guide for mathematics assessment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Bayat, K., & Rezaei, A. (2015). Importance of Teachers’ Assessment Literacy.  International Journal of English Language Education, 3(1), 139.  
Berry, R. (2008). Assessment for Learning (Hong Kong teacher education series). Hong Kong University Press, HKU.
Boyles, P. (2005). Assessment literacy. In M. Rosenbusch (Ed.), National assessment summit papers, 11–15. Ames, IA: Iowa State University.
Brindley, G. (2001). Language assessment and professional development. In E. Elder
Brown, J. D., & Bailey, K. M. (2008). Language testing courses: What are they in 2007? Language Testing, 25(3), 349–383.
Brown, E., Hill, K., Iwashita, N., Lumley, T., McNamara, T., &   O’Loughlin, K. (2004). Experimenting with uncertainty: language testing essays in honor of Alan Davies.  Studies in Language Testing, 11, 126-136. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coombe, C., Al-Hamly, M., & Troudi, S. (2012). Foreign and second language teacher assessment literacy: Issues, challenges, andrecommendations. In Coombe et al., 2012, 147-155.  Dera.ioe.ac.uk. (2018). AssessmentforLearning.pdf. Retrieved from: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/7800/1/
Davies, A. (2008). Textbook trends in teaching language testing. Language Testing, 25(3),            327-347.
Djoub, Zineb. (2017). Teachers Attitudes Towards Technology Integration: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice. 10.4018/978-1-5225-7918-2.ch003.
Fulcher, Glenn. (2012). Assessment Literacy for the Language Classroom. Language Assessment Quarterly - LANG ASSESS Q. 9. 113-132.
Guering, E. (2010). Initial findings from an Italian pilot study of foreign language teachers'.           Stated language assessment knowledge-base and needs. Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching
Jannati, S. (2015). ELT Teachers’ Language Assessment Literacy: Perceptions and Practices. International Journal of Research in Teacher Education, 6(2), 26-37.
Jeong, H. (2013). Defining assessment literacy: Is it different for language testers and non-language testers? Language Testing, 30(3), 345–362.
Jin, Y. (2010). The place of language testing and assessment in the professional preparation of foreign language teachers in China. Language Testing, 27(4), 555–584.
Jing, H. & Zonghui, H. (2016) Exploring Assessment Literacy. Journal of Higher Educationof social science Vol No, 18-20.
Herrera, L. & Macías, D. (2015). A call for language assessment literacy in the education and development of teachers of English as a foreign language. Colomb. Appl. Linguist. J., 17(2), 302-312.
Jones, C. A. (2009). Assessment for learning. London: Learning and Skills Network.
Karin, V., & Tsagari, D. (2014). Assessment Literacy of Foreign Language Teachers: Findings of a European Study, Language Assessment Quarterly, 11(4), 374-402
Krawczyk, R. M. (2017). Effects of Grading on Student Learning and Alternative Assessment Strategies. Retrieved on Mars 3, 1918, from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website. Retrieved from:  https://sophia.stkate.edu/ maed/223
Plakans, L., & Gebril, A. (2015). Assessment myths: applying second language research to classroom teaching. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Loumbourdi, L. (2014). The power and impact of standardized tests: Investigating the washback of language exams in Greece. New York: Peter Lang.
Malone, M. E. (2013). The essentials of assessment literacy: Contrasts between testers and users. Language Testing, 30(3), 329–344.
May, T., & Carolyn, E. T. (2015). The Impact of Communication and Collaboration between Test Developers and Teachers on a High-Stakes ESL Exam: Aligning            External Assessment and Classroom Practices Language Assessment Quarterly 12(1), 29-49.
Muñoz, A., Palacio, M., & Escobar, L. (2012). Teachers' Beliefs about Assessment in an EFL Context in Colombia. Profile Issues in Teachers' Professional Development. 14, 143-158.
O'Loughlin, K. (2006). Learning about second language assessment:  Insights from a postgraduate student on-line subject forum. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 1, 71-85.
Popham, W.J. (2004). Why assessment illiteracy is professional suicide.  Educational         Leadership, 62(1), 82-83.
Rezaei Fard, Z., & Tabatabaei, O. (2018). Investigating Assessment Literacy of EFL Teachers in Iran. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 5 (3), 91-100. 
Rima, K., Aleksandras, K., & Natalja, K. (2011).Subjectivity Problem in Student Assessment Theoretical and Practical Aspects: Social Technologies: Research journal, 1(1), 121-138.
Romanowski, M. H. (2004). Student Obsession with Grades and Achievement. Kappa     Delta Pi Record, 40(4), 149–151.
Scarino, A. (2013). Language Assessment Literacy as Self- awareness: Understanding the Role of Interpretation in Assessment and Teacher Learning. Language Testing 30(3), 309-327.
Shavelson, R., et al. (2008), “On the Impact of Curriculum- embedded Formative Assessment on Learning: A Collaboration between Curriculum and Assessment  Developers," Applied Measurement in Education, 21, 295-314.
Sheehan, S., & Munro, Sonia (2017). Assessment: attitudes, practices, and needs.  Project             Report. British Council. Retrieved on Mars, 1, 1918 from https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/starting/ how_uni_works /differences_between_school_and_uni Stiggins, R. (1999). Assessment, Student Confidence, and School Success. The Phi Delta Kappan, 81(3), 191-198.
Stiggins, R. (2007). Conquering the formative assessment frontier.  In J. McMillian (Ed.), Formative classroom assessment, 8 – 28. New York: Colombia University Teachers College Press.
Sundqvist, P., Wikström, P., Sandlund, E., & Nyroos, L. (2017). The teacher as an examiner of L2 oral tests: A challenge to standardization. Language Testing, 35(2), 217- 238.
Taylor, L (2009) Developing Assessment Literacy. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics   29, 21–36.
Taylor, L. (2013). Communicating the theory, practice, and principles of language testing to test stakeholders: Some reflections. Language Testing, 30(3), 403–412.
Tedick, D. (2003). Proficiency-Oriented Language Instruction and Assessment: Standards, Philosophies, and Considerations for Assessment. An introductory section of the Proficiency-Oriented Language Instruction and Assessment (POLIA) Curriculum Handbook for Teachers. (Tedick, 1998).
Tsagari, D. et al. (2018). Handbook of Assessment for Language Teachers. Nicosia, Cyprus. ISBN 978-9925-7399-0-5 (printed). Vivien Berry and Barry O’Sullivan. (2016). https://tea.iatefl.org/wp-content/uploads/.../Vivien-Berry-and-Barry-OSullivan.pdf 
Vogt, K. & Tsagari, D. (2014). Assessment Literacy of Foreign Language Teachers: Findings of a European Study. Language Assessment Quarterly, 11(4), 374-402.
Webb, N. (2002, April). Assessment literacy in a standards-based urban education setting. In the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans. Retrieved on Mars, 24, 2018: from http://www.wcer.wisc.edu /archive/mps/AERA2002/
Wei, Wei. (2017). A Critical Review of Washback Studies: Hypothesis and Evidence, in      Al-Mahrooqi, R., Coombe, C., Al-Maamari, F., & Thakur, V. (2017). Revisiting         EFL Assessment: Critical Perspectives.
White, Eddy. (2009). Are you assessment literate? Some fundamental questions regarding effective classroom-based assessment. On CUE Journal, 3, 3-25.
Zhao, Z. (2013). An overview of studies on diagnostic testing and its implication for the development of the diagnostic speaking test. International Journal of English Linguistics, 3(1), 41-45.