Beyond Words - Language Blog

The Value of Independent Language Testing

As a language testing provider, clients ask us to describe the added value of using an independent language testing organization such as ALTA. By having language tests administered independently, businesses, government agencies and healthcare organizations gain certain advantages:

Independent language testing is unbiased

The testing organization has no vested interest in the outcome of the tests; rather, its interest is in performing the job properly. The independent testing company has no incentive to pass or fail testing candidates because of other factors such as personality, need to fill positions or friendships. The independent testing company instead focuses only on the candidate’s performance in using the language. Since the testing company has a strong interest in maintaining its reputation for quality, the emphasis is on properly rating the candidate’s performance.

Language Testing providers use objective processes

While it is impossible to eliminate subjectivity completely in language testing, the testing provider’s aim is to minimize it. This is done through using pre-determined rating criteria, conducting rater training and norming sessions, and performing quality assurance practices. These practices ensure that raters are evaluating candidates in a standardized way. An independent testing company aims to make the process objective and continually works to improve the process.

Language testing providers can guarantee a test’s validity and reliability

By creating and administering tests that are both valid and reliable, the testing provider can ensure that the client is getting testing that meets industry standards for testing. This is important both to give assurance that testing candidates are being properly scored and to give the client the assurance that the testing measures the skills needed to perform the job or task for which the testing is being done.

Independent language testing uses up-to-date methods and technologies

Language testing is a technology application. Improvements are made from time-to-time in both the testing methodology as well as the supporting processes. An example of a methodology improvement is the use of video to simulate real-life interactions. An example of the supporting processes is the use of systems, such as online or automated telephone recording systems, which enable the testing provider to deliver the test using the most effective means available. Independent language testing companies utilize these technology improvements to provide competitive service to their clients.

Independent language testing is legally defensible

Occasionally, a client will make decisions based on the results of the testing and those decisions are challenged by an individual or group. These challenges can extend to legal challenges. All of the items described above give the client using independent testing a strong position to support the decisions that were made based on the testing results.

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ALTA Language Services, a national leader in language testing for global businesses, government agencies, and health care organizations, is the official independent language testing provider for several U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, California, where thousands of Spanish tests are administered each year.