Study: English language proficiency test causes undue stress for students

December 21, 2011

The nationally mandated English language proficiency test, given to students whose second language is English, is causing unintended psychological stress for students who can least afford it, according to a Michigan State University researcher.

In research published in the December edition of the journal TESOL Quarterly, MSU’s Paula Winke said teachers and test administrators should assist in the reform of the English Language Proficiency Assessment. Otherwise, the test could negatively impact the academic success of the country’s more than 5 million English Language Learners (defined as those who speak another language).

“The test is supposed to measure how well a school teaches English, but the students feel it measures their own abilities and whether they’re a good person,” said Winke, an assistant professor of second languages who teaches in the College of Education. “So students often don’t understand why the test is so difficult. They think, ‘Why am I such a failure?’”

Read the full MSU news release.