Fairer, Greener, Stronger: The Future of Language Assessment
The New Directions East Asia 2021 conference convenes under the theme “Fairer, Greener, Stronger: The Future of Language Assessment.” It recognises that the language assessment industry, like all other sectors, has experienced significant disruption over the last year. There has been an acceleration in systemic change, innovation and the emergence of divisions in society relating to equality, accessibility and sustainability.
The conference brings together leaders in language assessment, policymakers and educators to help inform policies and shape the partnerships needed to navigate this new challenging context.
Convened as an online forum, leaders will engage in debate and discussion on how language assessment stakeholders can respond to opportunities, innovate, and establish meaningful partnerships to overcome division and uncertainty.
Equal access to quality education is a fundamental right of everyone in every nation, and a crucial driver of social and economic progress.
This theme explores the ways in which we can drive greater inclusivity in language assessment and language education policy. We invite discussion on how we can improve access and enhance accommodations in tests, how testing can be more representative of the diversity of language learners and speakers, and how the widening digital divide can be addressed and mitigated as language assessment shifts towards digitalisation. Particularly in the context of this increased use of technology, we seek to understand how computers can be leveraged to provide solutions, and explore the potential threats to fairness and inclusivity we need to guard against as assessment goes digital. We look at how tests can open up workplace opportunities to learners, and how fairness should be at the heart of language learning and educational policy reform.
A faster transition to clean energy and a zero carbon future is the only option the global community has to combat climate change. It calls on all individuals, institutions and governments to work together to reduce their impact on the environment.
The environmental impact of language assessment has received scant attention. While there are clear benefits to the shift from paper-based, travel-intensive, in-person testing as a trouble-free step towards reducing our carbon footprint as an industry, the potential impact on the natural world of other resource-heavy methods, such as machine-learning used in automated assessment, cannot be ignored.
In this COP-26 year, when climate change is centre-stage, this theme encourages us to think about the impact of our industry on the environment and the key sustainability factors we need to consider as language testing increasingly moves into the digital space.
Building future-ready, shock-proof educational systems and societies requires safeguarding and reinforcing the links that assessment provides to learning, employment and community participation by designing testing systems that are adaptable and resilient.
Threats to test access can translate into stalled learning progress, closed doors in employment and missed opportunities for many.
This theme considers how the pivotal role assessment plays in education and society can be exploited for good: how tests can be strengthened and how tests can be used to strengthen the wider educational, social and vocational ecosystems to weather challenges that lie ahead. We are interested in how employment, social and learning landscapes of the future can be positively shaped by alternative approaches to testing, by the responsible, considered use of new technologies, and by how, when considered as part of a comprehensive learning system, the powerful relationship between curriculum, teaching and testing can be used to positively influence learning.