What does it mean for a test to be at a particular level?

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What does it mean for a test to be at a particular level?

Increasingly, language tests in Europe are being linked to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) developed by the Council of Europe. The framework distinguishes levels of language competence in terms of descriptors or can-do statements. There have now been a number of studies in which testing agencies claim that their tests are at a particular CEF-level. In many cases, this has as yet been done through content analysis. Such analyses may successfully show that tests typically cover descriptors that are mentioned in the CEFR at a particular level. However, these studies do not always indicate what score the candidate needs to reach to be given a particular CEFR level. It is one thing to pass a test, it may be another thing to pass the test at a particular CEFR level. At Cito, the Dutch National Institute of Educational Measurement, research has been carried out on the levels of existing foreign language examinations produced by Cito. An important phase in this research has been standard-setting. It has been found that for most examinations it is possible to say: within this range of scores the test taker is at this CEFR level and within another score range on the same examination, the test taker is at a higher CEFR level. However, the existing pass/fail score (the sufficient/insufficient score) has no relationship with these levels and may be anywhere in the possible score range of the examination.

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