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Comparability of TOEFL-CBT Writing Prompts for Different Native Language Groups TOEFL CBT DIF

Lee, Yong-Won; Breland, Hunter M.; Muraki, Eiji
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ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Computer-Based Testing (CBT), Writing Assessment, Essay Prompts, Comparability, Fairness, Polytomous DIF, Differential Item Functioning (DIF), Native Languages, Logistic Regression, Proportional Odds-Ratio Model


This study has investigated the comparability of computer-based testing (CBT) writing prompts in the TOEFL® test (Test of English as a Foreign Language™) for examinees of different native language backgrounds. A total of 81 writing prompts introduced from July 1998 through August 2000 were examined using a three-step logistic regression procedure for ordinal items. An English language ability (ELA) variable was created by summing the standardized TOEFL Reading, Listening, and Structure scale scores. This ELA variable was used to match examinees of East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) and European (German, French, and Spanish) language groups. Although about one third of the 81 prompts were initially flagged because of statistically significant group effects, the effect sizes were too small for any of those flagged prompts to be classified as having an important group effect.

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