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Validity Evidence

Validity research focuses on the claims associated with a test’s scores. It is important to conduct validity research in order to determine whether it is appropriate to use scores as evidence of what test takers know and can do.

In the case of the TOEFL® test, researchers conduct studies of these validity-related topics:

  • Factor structure — the relationship among the test's target skills
  • Construct representation — how well the test tasks measure the important English-language skills required for academic success
  • Criterion-related and predictive validity — whether test takers' scores reliably predict how well they will be able to use English in higher education classrooms where it is the language of instruction
  • Consequential validity — the effect that the test has on language learning and instruction

Featured Publications

These are some recent or significant publications related to the validity of using TOEFL iBT® scores as a measure of students' readiness to study in higher education institutions where English is the language of instruction:

Syntheses of Validity Evidence

Building a Validity Argument for the Test of English as a Foreign Language™
C. A. Chapelle, M. K. Enright, & J. M. Jamieson, (Eds.) (2008)
Publisher: Routledge

Validity Evidence Supporting the Interpretation and Use of TOEFL iBT™ Scores
ETS (2008)
TOEFL Research Insight Series Vol. 4

Relationship Among Test Measures

Factor Structure of the TOEFL Internet-Based Test
Y. Sawaki, L. J. Stricker, & A. H. Oranje (2009)
Language Testing, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 5–30

Factor Structure of the TOEFL® Internet-Based Test Across Subgroups
L. J. Stricker & D. A. Rock (2008)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-07

Factor Structure of the TOEFL® Internet-Based Test (iBT): Exploration in a Field Trial Sample
Y. Sawaki, L. J. Stricker, & A. Oranje (2008)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-04

Factor Structure of the LanguEdge™ Test Across Language Groups
L. J. Stricker, D. A. Rock, & Y.-W. Lee (2005)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-32

Construct Representation

Discourse Characteristics of Writing and Speaking Task Types on the TOEFL iBT® Test: A Lexico-Grammatical Analysis
D. Biber & B. Gray (2013)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-19

The Speaking Section of the TOEFL iBT™ (SSTiBT): Test-takers' Reported Strategic Behaviors
M. Swain, L. Huang, K. Barkaoui, L. Brooks, & S. Lapkin (2009)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-10

Strategies in Responding to New TOEFL® Reading Tasks
D. Cohen & T. A. Upton (2006)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-33

Analysis of Discourse Features and Verification of Scoring Levels for Independent and Integrated Prototype Written Tasks for the New TOEFL® Test
A. Cumming, R. Kantor, K. Baba, K. Eouanzoui, U. Erdosy, & M. James (2006)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-30

An Examination of Rater Orientations and Test Taker Performance on English-for-Academic-Purposes Speaking Tasks
A. Brown, N. Iwashita, & T. McNamara (2005)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-29

Criterion-Related and Predictive Validity

Validation of Automated Scores of TOEFL iBT® Tasks Against Nontest Indicators of Writing Ability
S. C. Weigle (2011)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-15

Criterion-Related Validity of the TOEFL® iBT Listening Section
Y. Sawaki & S. Nissan (2009)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-08

Investigating the Criterion-Related Validity of the TOEFL® Speaking Scores for ITA Screening and Setting Standards for ITAs
X. Xi (2008)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-03

Effects of Language of Administration on Self-Assessment of Language Skills
C. Roever & D. E. Powers (2005)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-27

Validating LanguEdge™ Courseware Against Faculty Ratings and Student Self-Assessments
D. E. Powers, C. Roever, K. L. Huff, & C. S. Trapani (2003)
ETS Research Rep. No. RR-03-11

Authenticity and Content Validity

Test Takers' Attitudes About the TOEFL iBT
L. Stricker & Y. Attali (2010)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-13

A Teacher-Verification Study of Speaking and Writing Prototype Tasks for a New TOEFL® test
A. Cumming, L. Grant, P. Mulcahy-Ernt, & D. E. Powers (2005)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-26

Representing Language Use in the University: Analysis of the TOEFL® 2000 Spoken and Written Academic Language Corpus
D. Biber, S. M. Conrad, R. Reppen, P. Byrd, M. Helt, V. Clark, et al. (2004)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-25

The Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Tasks Important for Academic Success at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels
M. Rosenfeld, S. Leung, & P. K. Oltman (2001)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-21

Consequential Validity

The Impact of Changes in the TOEFL® Exam on Teaching in a Sample of Countries in Europe: Phase 3, The Role of the Coursebook. Phase 4, Describing Change
D. Wall & T. Horák (2011)
TOEFL Report iBT-17

The Impact of Changes in the TOEFL® Examination on Teaching and Learning in Central and Eastern Europe: Phase 2, Coping with Change
D. Wall & T. Horák (2008)
TOEFL iBT Report No. iBT-05

The Impact of Changes in the TOEFL® Examination on Teaching and Learning in Central and Eastern Europe: Phase 1, The Baseline Study
D. Wall & T. Horák (2006)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-34

Washback in Language Testing
K. M. Bailey (1999)
TOEFL Monograph No. MS-15