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Standards for Testing Bilingual Persons

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

  1. For a bilingual person, any test that relies on English becomes confounded since, in unknown degrees, it becomes an English test.
  2. Bilingualism is a complex phenomenon involving all aspects of literacy, communication and social functions.
  3. Mental processing in the weaker language may be slower, less efficient and less effective.
  4. Language background, not just language proficiency, must be taken into account in every facet of assessment, such as test development, selection, administration and interpretation.
  5. Tests developed without accounting for language differences are limited in their validity and in how they can be interpreted.
  6. Psychometric properties (e.g., reliability, validity) do not translate from one language to another, and, hence, translations do not work.
  7. Measuring proficiency in first language (L1) and second language (L2).
  8. Proficiency in English should be determined along several dimensions.
  9. The ability to speak English in naturalistic situations may not predict the ability to learn academic material in English.
  10. Assessment of non-native speakers of English will take extra time (more tests and observations).
  11. Particularities of cultural background can lower test performance.
  12. Special training for bilingual communication in testing may be profitable and beneficial.
  13. Tests must be proven to be equivalent if they are formulated in L1 and L2.


Produced by the Evaluation Assistance Center-West NMHU, Albuquerque, NM (Revised 10/95). Revised from the Joint Committee of the American Educational Research Association. American Psychological Association, & American Council on Measurement. Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Washington D.C: APA. 1985.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.