The TOEFL® 2000 Test — Writing: Composition, Community, and Assessment

Hamp-Lyons, Liz; Kroll, Barbara
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RM-96-05, TOEFL-MS-05
Document Type:
Subject/Key Words:
Test construction test design writing evaluation writing skills


This monograph explores the salient issues of an approach to assessing writing in the context of the TOEFL® test and in light of what is currently known and believed about the acquisition and assessment of writing. It encompasses the Committee of Examiners' model of communicative competence (1993) as well as the accepted paradigms for the teaching and learning of writing, and suggests an attention to writing as "discourse competence," that is, writing as an act that takes place within a context, accomplishes a particular purpose, and is appropriately shaped for its intended audience. The monograph describes a variety of potential approaches to writing assessment and considers how these might be applied to academic writing in the TOEFL® 2000 context. It pays particular attention to the attempt to describe the test taker population of the TOEFL 2000 test, pointing out how little is known about test takers generally and suggesting the need for studies of writers and their reactions to test prompts and conditions. It then considers prompt development, scoring procedures, score reporting, and score use in some detail, drawing attention to the special problem of the limited time usually available in test writing conditions. Finally, the monograph closes with a consideration of costs, practicability, and washback from the test, and makes some key recommendations for writing test development for the TOEFL 2000 test.

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