Testing the Productive Skills: A Creative Focus for Hybrid Achievement Tests



ABSTRACT  The testing of the mechanics of a second language is essentially an activity most appropriate to brief quizzes. The evaluation of mastery at the various stages of language acquisition is more appropriately carried out through the use of creative testing on hybrid achievement tests, which retain certain features of achievement tests and which incorporate proficiency-based tasks that require authentic communicative language use. Such tests call for the relatively autonomous use of language by the student, the quality of which will be restricted only by the level of study and the language repertoire of the student.

Although lip service is paid to proficiency-focused instruction, many tests still reflect a sole preoccupation with grammatical accuracy. This paper suggests the incorporation of testing practices that allow students to demonstrate their true abilities in the second language, and the movement away from discrete-point test items and purely objective evaluation toward holistic, analytical, or primary-trait scoring procedures, which give credit for creative language use.

Creative testing on paper-and-pencil tests is a viable alternative. Such testing allows for student creativity in carrying out truly communicative tasks, yet it provides an effective measure of student learning and performance.