Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Reading on Test Validity and Integration (Inclusivity and Exclusivity) - 6

Orgad, 2010: see pp74-79 for a discussion (and references) regarding “Britishness” and the effect of immigration thereon. And there’s a useful analogy with driving licences on p96. Useful but clumsy: I cannot accept, without qualificaton, that it follows that “if living in a liberal democracy means obeying certain structural principles, the state can require the acceptance of
these principles as a prerequisite to admission”.

Many citizens of Western countries, participating in it since childhood, will fail to obey “certain structural principles”. For example, everyone has (say) human rights, but not to the pub bigot who thinks refugees should be “sent back where they came from”, (a not uncommon view held in the UK). P97, “some forms of intolerance are intolerable” is a view that is only right in theory. To follow its logic, we would have to remove UK citizenship from a small but not negligible proportion of the population, I need to reference this: find UK/Scottish attitudes surveys: what proportion of pop. are actively racist or anyway demonstrably xenophobic. I’ve blogged about this elsewhere: are the tabloid press and the politicians leading or being led? How many people has one heard in, say, the last five years begin a sentence with “I’m not racist, but…”?

We need to distinguish “views” from “abilities”. For example, let’s imagine a rabid anti-semite, who is nontheless a C1 speaker and listener. Her holocaust denying world view is kept for her family and like-minded friends. She takes her KoLL successfully, and a year later her (private) views are, somehow, brought into public view, without her consent. Do we now remove her citizenship? How would it be fair to do so when her UK born neighbour shares the same views? It’s usual for most of us to shun a person with obnoxious views, not to seek their expulsion from the country. Actual incitement of others to racial hatred is a crime, but after punishment should not offenders be given leave to get on with their lives?

Wright, 2008, looks at the question: why at that (2008, after 7/7 but before the “Arab Spring” and Syrian war) point in the history of migration, were so many states beginning to introduce tests to would be citizens? “[A]re there specific violent events that have sparked this development or is it sheer weight of numbers?” The 7/7 bombs in London, and the influence of the right wing press are referred to, but it is not clear how exactly these relate to policy. The 7/7 terrorists were all long term UK nationals. And we might question how anyone in the UK is objectively aware of “weight of numbers” of new arrivals. Some towns have large non-white populations, but that has been the situation for at least a generation. [Where does UKIP campaign most successfully? In constituencies with few or many non-white, or non-British residents?  How does racism actually work? Do people turn their face against Syrian refugees because, for example, they don’t like listening to Polish speakers on the bus of a morning? Or do racists tolerate Poles, but hate Arabs? More research needed here. Not sure if it’s relevant to validity, (remember, stakeholders can also be racists) but it is interesting.]

Wright then turns to the construction of the tests and suggests testees have to demonstrate an understanding of the “imagined community” of the nation, “to have knowledge of national myths of origin, legends, heroes, the moments of national calamity and the reasons for national pride.” Which might be an intended beneficial consequence of the Life aspect of KoLL, which leads directly to validity questions. Although not written from a test-validity point of view, the article raises an interesting point about validity: if the test is designed to assess the testee’s adherence to liberal values, there’s nothing to prevent her faking that adherence. (The Life test is unlike a language test in that particular regard, this is one reason for not spending too much time on it.) 

Turning to language, Wright notes (p3) that the short period (the 1980s and 90s) when immigrants’ language resources were viewed as an asset appears to be over in the UK. Which is interesting from an ESOL point of view, a field of study which has begun (Garcia, 2009) to consider language learners as “emergent bilinguals”. Wright suggests that the transparency of testing is a positive element. This view has some merit. At least we have tests whose validity can be examined; testees “might judge it preferable to take a test where the format is known, the bank of questions available, preparation possible and resits an option”.

There’s a good point for critical researchers to bear in mind: do we object to the very idea of testing? Or simply to the particular form, (I would say questionable validity) of the tests? “[I]t makes no sense for academics to criticise the form of the tests if their objection is to the process itself. 

A bigger view is taken regarding the development of testing and the changed attitudes towards multiculturalism and bilingualism: perhaps this is a permanent shift, or it may be a blip, and the pendulum will swing back, perhaps to reflect the need for immigration in light of ageing European populations.

Khalas. Kiwan, (who’s been involved in KoLL in some capacity) tomorrow.


Blackledge, A. 2005. Discourse and Power in a Multilingual World. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Garcia, O. (2009). Emergent Bilinguals and TESOL: What's in a Name?. Tesol Quarterly, 43(2), 322-326.

[UNABLE TO VERFIY VOLUME & PAGE NOS.] Johansson, M., & Śliwa, M. (2014). “It is English and there is no Alternative”: Intersectionality, Language and Social/Organizational Differentiation of Polish Migrants in the UK. Gender, Work & Organization.

[UNABLE TO VERFIY PUBLICATION.] Joppke, et al. (2010). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. Global Governance, RSCAS 2010(2), 30.

Kiwan, D (2008). A Journey to Citizenship in the United Kingdom. International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 10 (1), 60-76.

Orgad, L. (2010). Illiberal liberalism cultural restrictions on migration and access to citizenship in Europe. American Journal of Comparative Law, 58(1), 53–105.

Wright, S (2008). Citizenship Tests in Europe. International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 10 (1), 1-10.

[NB1 Drafting in Pages to subsequently paste into Blogger. Said it before, and I’m saying it again, and I don’t know why I went back to trying to draft in Blogger. It’s useless for drafting. Look back at last few EdD posts, inconsistent spacing between paras because Blogger can’t let you know how many times you’ve hit the return key. It undoes formatting when you paste it in, so that's not ideal, either. Maybe try copying and pasting as HTML? Ffs.]

[NB2: Johansson & Sliwa, 2014: I’ve got the PDF for this, but I wanted to get the full citation with vol & page nos etc, so went to the journal Gender, Work etc., and this article doesn’t appear in 2013-2016. Ditto with Jopke et al. Or is it Joppke? The reason I’ve gone to so much trouble, procrastination aside, is that I’ve started doing refs by hand, having been censured for inaccuracy on my last submission. Citation generators just can’t do it reliably.]