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Abstract

The past decade has seen an emerging interest in aligning test scores to language proficiency levels of external performance scales or frameworks, such as the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Such alignment is ultimately a claim about the interpretation of test scores in relation to external levels of language proficiency. To support such a claim, established procedures should be carefully implemented and documented, and multiple sources of evidence should be collected. This paper demonstrates the steps in building an argument for aligning the scores of an international English language proficiency test to the levels of China’s Standards of English Language Ability, or CSE, a localized language proficiency framework for English as a foreign language. Aligning an international examination to a localized framework serves to make the test score more relevant to the intended context of its use. We discuss the contextual issues that should be considered when interpreting test scores in relation to local proficiency levels, given the potential impact of score-based decisions on individuals and institutions. The implications for similar alignment research will also be presented.

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