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The Association Between TOEFL iBT Test Scores and the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) Levels

Papageorgiou, Spiros; Tannenbaum, Richard J.; Bridgeman, Brent; Cho, Yeonsuk
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ETS Research Memorandum
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Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) Cut Scores Language Proficiency Score Interpretation TOEFL iBT


The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), published by the Council of Europe (2001) is arguably one of the most influential language frameworks in the field of second language teaching and assessment, articulating a progression of language proficiency through a number of levels. Tannenbaum & Wylie (2008) mapped the TOEFL iBT test scores onto the CEFR levels to help test users and decision makers interpret TOEFL iBT test scores in terms of the CEFR levels. Based on the feedback of subsequent users and decisions makers, Educational Testing Service (ETS) revised the CEFR cut scores (i.e., minimum test scores required for each CEFR level) in 2014. In this research memorandum, we present the rationale for the revision of the CEFR cut scores and offer validity evidence that the revised cut scores (a) are reasonable and (b) do not negatively impact the quality of admissions decisions.

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