Already read?!

Nikola Dobrić/Hermann Cesnik/Claudia Harsch (eds.): Festschrift in honour of Günther Sigott: advanced methods in language testing. Peter Lang, 2023.


The volume, traditionally called a Festschrift in the German-speaking world, has been compiled to honour Günther Sigott for his notable contributions to academia in general and to the field of language testing in particular. It comprises nine international contributions situated in the broader area of language testing and assessment. In particular, the themes include validity and validation, norms and standards, test design, test calibration, and the latest advances in psychometrics.

A copy of the recommended work can be found in the reading corner (11) with the shelfmark I 647860.


The volume at hand, traditionally called a Festschrift in the German-speaking world, has been compiled to honour Günther Sigott for his notable contributions to academia in general and to the field of language testing in particular. It is no exaggeration to say that Günther Sigott was one of the key figures placing language testing and assessment on the academic map in Austria. His work within the national testing standards and the manner in which this work communicated the importance of language testing also to the public helped solidify the relevance of the discipline. In this respect, Günther paved the path for many of us working as language testing scholars in Austria at a time when language testing was not yet established as a scholarly field outside the English-speaking world.

The contributors to this volume come from all around the world, spanning regions from Austria and its neighbouring countries of Slovenia and Germany, to the UK, USA, Canada, and all the way to Japan and Iran. They work as test developers, teacher educators, psychometricians, and researchers, taking up a variety of themes, such as washback of standardized tests, the acknowledgement of language varieties in high-stakes exams, fostering language assessment literacy, and psychometric models to enhance C-test interpretations or scoring validity.

The book opens with a much-appreciated integrative view on validity, bringing different schools of thought and divergent traditions from the UK and the USA together. It takes a very promising look on validity, which they argue needs to span four dimensions, that is, test development, measurement theories, consequences, and communication with all stakeholders. The next contribution outlines an argument for bringing test tasks from a large-scale standardised test, used for educational monitoring, into the language classroom. This way, it aims to open communication channels between test developers on the one hand and teachers and learners on the other hand. The focus lies on employing reading tasks in such a way as to foster reading abilities rather than ‘only’ measuring them.

The third chapter takes a closer look at what is needed to develop language assessment literacy (LAL) with teacher trainees, one prerequisite to enable future teachers to meaningfully develop, employ, and interpret tests and assessments in their classrooms. It revolves around a survey conducted in order to find out how challenging different known components of LAL are perceived by pre-service teachers. Then, the contribution that follows looks at a high-stakes language test at the end of secondary schooling, which also entails the right to enter university in Slovenia. It zooms in on language accuracy as one sub-component of language proficiency and examines its relation to other parts of the exam. The findings show that language accuracy, while having moderate to strong correlations with the reading section in particular, nevertheless has its own place in the exam, as only moderate correlations between the different test parts that target accuracy have been found.

Chapter five presents us with yet another set of high-stakes exams, this time in Austria, i.e., the Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch (ÖSD). It discusses the important dimension of pluricentricity, a perspective that the ÖSD takes into account by incorporating all three language varieties of the German language that are spoken in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It outlines the rationale for the pluricentric approach that the ÖSD takes, how it is operationalized, and how it is implemented in the exams of the ÖSD. Chapter six, staying with the ÖSD, moves on to a more technical aspect of test calibration, one that can also be conceptualized to contributing to the ÖSD’s validity from a measurement perspective. It discusses efforts at calibrating different exam versions within the ÖSD via a common anchor test, in order to derive at test versions that have the same level of difficulty, to ensure comparability across different test sessions.

The remaining three chapters of the Festschrift focus on measurement aspects. Firstly, Chapter seven, offers a new approach to modelling local dependencies in C-tests, a well-known challenge for C-test researchers and users. This alternative approach first identifies items with such dependencies, and in a next step, bundles only those with known dependencies; in the last step, the bundled items along with those that did not show any local dependencies, are then scaled together on one difficulty scale. Then, secondly, Chapter eight present an innovative method that comprises only a few measures, which can easily be collected using existing automated indices, in order to estimate C-test item and text difficulties with reasonable accuracy. Even if the findings still show variability in the level of prediction accuracy, the suggested method is promising in so far as it could help saving considerable resources when it comes to pre-testing C-tests. Finally, the concluding chapter includes a very competently compiled overview of the latest advances in Many-Faceted Rasch (MFRM) modelling, in a manner that is not only insightful for measurement experts but also accessible to lay persons who wish to gain a first overview of what MFRM is all about.