A regional Hornby school was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 23 to 28 January 2017 on designing communicative language assessment. This school forms part of the current British Council initiative to engage with the Ministry of Education, Bangladesh, which recently announced its intention to introduce assessment of speaking and listening skills into school examinations. It is hoped that this policy will also have a positive effect on the teaching of English in secondary and primary schools, as teachers prepare their students for these new examinations.
In the Hornby five-day school, 35 participants were trained, including technical experts from National Curriculum and Textbook board (NCTB), teacher trainers and school teachers who work for local examinations board and are responsible for test item writing. Two teacher trainers working for the British Council in India also attended. The school was delivered by Dr Rita Green from Lancaster University, the author of the key reference book in the field, and focused on practical test design for speaking, listening, reading and writing tests, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scales and underlying principles of test design and development.
The participants became increasingly active over the five days of the school and there was a lively debate over some of the tests from Bangladesh, and the test formats introduced in the course. Each group had to produce a sample test item each day, and it was noticeable that participants’ awareness increased and that they started to produce some valid test items.
Chowdhury Mufad Ahmed, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Education, Bangladesh and Barbara Wickham, Director, British Council attended the certificate award ceremony on the final day of the training. Mufad Ahmed emphasised this training as a well-timed initiative in line with the Government of Bangladesh’s policy to improve the assessment system of Bangladesh. Barbara Wickham highlighted the complexity of developing high-quality assessments as well as its importance for any positive change in teaching and learning.