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Assessing the Test Information Function and Differential Item Functioning for the TOEFL Junior Standard Test TOEFL

Young, John W.; Morgan, Rick; Rybinski, Paul; Steinberg, Jonathan; Wang, Yuan
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Report Number:
ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), TOEFL Junior, Language Proficiency, Language Assessment, English Proficiency Test, Middle School Students


The TOEFL® Junior™ Standard Test is an assessment that measures the degree to which middle school-aged students learning English as a second language have attained proficiency in the academic and social English skills representative of English-medium instructional environments. The assessment measures skills in three areas: listening comprehension, language form and meaning, and reading comprehension. This study focused on two specific psychometric characteristics of the assessment: (a) For which segments of its score scales does the assessment provide sufficient information to support the use of the scores in placement decisions? (b) Do items exhibit significant (or C-level) differential item functioning (DIF) when comparisons are made between test-takers from different countries? For the first question, both of the forms we analyzed appear to provide sufficient information to support placement decisions across the majority of the score scale for all 3 sections of the assessment. For the second question, we found that a moderate number of items exhibited significant DIF, while the linguistic analyses conducted on the DIF results showed plausible construct-relevant explanations for most of the findings.

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