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A Good Fit? Examining the Alignment Between the TOEFL Junior Standard Test and the English as a Foreign Language Curriculum in Berlin, Germany TOEFL

Timpe-Laughlin, Veronika
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
TOEFL Junior, English Instruction, Foreign Language Instruction, English Curriculum, Germany, Classroom Assessment, Curriculum Alignment, Secondary Education, Teacher Attitudes, Focus Groups


Over the past years, students in Berlin, Germany, have taken the TOEFL Junior Standard test as part of an English language contest called Go4Goal! Given consistently increasing numbers of participating students, schools have asked whether it would be possible to use the TOEFL Junior Standard test in their English as a foreign language (EFL) instruction in the form of a Klassenarbeitsersatz (i.e., a substitute for 1 of the 4 mandatory written classroom assessments). To ensure that an external assessment constitutes an appropriate measurement tool for a given educational context and specific test use, it is imperative to conduct alignment studies and gauge the fit of the external assessment for the specific local use. This study investigates the alignment between the official EFL curriculum mandated by the ministry of education in the state of Berlin and the competencies and language skills assessed by the TOEFL Junior Standard test. To gauge the fit, curricula were reviewed and 40%–50% of the activities included in 4 different textbooks for Grades 7, 8, 9, and 10 were coded systematically. The frequencies were tallied to show the match between (a) what the test measures and (b) what is being taught in secondary-level EFL classes in Berlin. Additionally, the results from the coding exercise were triangulated with teacher perceptions of the TOEFL Junior Standard test. The results from the systematic coding and the teachers’ perceptions suggest that the TOEFL Junior Standard test is an appropriate measure for secondary-level EFL learners in Berlin.

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