The core component of any test development project is the creation of the test items. SLTI’s proven process involves two key steps. First, SLTI’s project managers train item writers on the test and item specifications for the project. All of SLTI’s item writers have a background in language and linguistics and are previously trained in item writing techniques and strategies, as well as in one or more sets of language proficiency standards.
Once item writers have been trained, items are written and an iterative process of review and revision is implemented. Generally, there are three levels of internal item review. In the first level, item writers serve as item reviewers, evaluating the items drafted by their colleagues. In the second level of review, the items are reviewed again, this time by SLTI’s lead content experts. Items are then revised before a final round of review for typographical and formatting issues.
During the item writing and review process, test developers use a set of criteria to ensure that items align to the intended standards; measure the proper constructs; are authentic, uncontroversial, and unbiased; and meet the established principles of language test construction.
Once items have gone through the review process, they are prepared for administration, either by producing test booklets for paper-and-pencil test administration, or by entering them into an item bank for computer-based testing.