Success in Linking IELTS and Aptis to China’s Standards of English Language Ability

       On 6 December, 2016, China's Minister of Education and the UK Secretary of State for Education signed Action Plan under the UK-China Partners in Education Framework. The document stated that the National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA), Ministry of Education, China and the British Council were appointed respectively to implement a collaborative research on linking IELTS and Aptis to China's Standards of English Language Ability. The research team referred to previous studies on linking international language tests to language standards and employed a scientific approach which integrated expert judgements and empirical data, collecting evidences from multiple sources. This ensured that the linking claim would be both valid and reliable. The collaborative research took two years to complete.

 

Results of Linking IELTS and Aptis to China’s Standards of English Language Ability

Table 1:  Results of Linking IELTS to China’s Standards of English Language Ability

    CSE Level

IELTS Score

CSE Level 4

CSE Level 5

CSE Level 6

CSE Level 7

CSE Level 8

Total Score

4.5

5.5

6

7

8

Listening

5

6

6.5

7.5

8.5

Reading

4.5

5.5

6

7

7.5

Speaking

5

5.5

6

6.5

7

Writing

4

5

6

7

7.5

Notes:

1. CSE is short for China’s Standards of English Language Ability, which includes 9 levels. This research focuses on CSE Levels 4 to 8.

2. The IELTS score is reported with a total score (an average of the scores achieved across the four skills papers) and scores for each of the four skills, i.e. listening, reading, speaking and writing. All scores are between 1 and 9, with 0.5 as the minimal unit.

3. Table 1 displays the cut scores of the IELTS test mapped to CSE levels. For example, a score of 5 in IELTS listening is equivalent to CSE level 4; a score of 5.5 in IELTS reading is equivalent to CSE level 5; a score of 6 in IELTS speaking is equivalent to CSE level 6.

 

Table 2: Results of Linking Aptis to China’s Standards of English Language Ability

      CSE Level

Aptis Score

CSE Level 3

CSE Level 4

CSE Level 5

CSE Level 6

CSE Level 7

Listening

14

21

29

37

43

Reading

16

26

35

42

46

Speaking

21

29

37

43

47

Writing

22

31

39

45

50

Notes:

1. The research focuses on CSE Levels 3 to 7.

2. The Aptis score includes scores of four sections, i.e. listening, reading, speaking and writing. All scores are between 0 and 50.

3. Table 2 displays the cut scores of the Aptis test mapped to CSE levels. For example, a score of 14 in Aptis listening is equivalent to CSE Level 3; a score of 29 in Aptis speaking is equivalent to CSE Level 4; a score of 45 in Aptis writing is equivalent to CSE Level 6.

 

       In the next stage, the research team will continue to collect validity evidences. With the promotion of CSE and the development of the exams, the linking results will be updated in time.

 

Recommendations and Implications of Linking Results

I. Recommendations for linking results

1. The overall linking claim will be estimated by averaging the CSE level obtained across the four skills – with each skill seen as contributing equally.

2. Where an overall score or level is reported it should always be accompanied by the performance profile on the four skills upon which the overall has been calculated.

II. Implications of linking results

1. For English Learners

(1) For English learners who have taken either IELTS or Aptis, the results will allow them to have a deeper understanding of their English proficiency by referring to the descriptions of language ability in the CSE that are mapped to IELTS or Aptis test score. This will enable them to devise an appropriate learning plan.

(2) English learners who haven’t taken the tests can always look to the CSE ability descriptors to self-assess their English proficiency. This will allow them to accurately select an appropriate test, manage their test timetable in terms of when best to take it, and have a well-thought-out plan for tests.

2. For Educational Institutions

(1) Educational institutions can set education objectives for their students by referring to the basic English language requirements of international programmes, the linking results and the CSE descriptors, based on the characteristics of their schools and disciplines. They can also establish clear goals for students’ability and transform the education from score-oriented to ability-oriented.

(2) According to the education objectives, educational institutions can improve learning materials, teaching methods and teaching practices in classroom and enhance their teachers’English assessment capabilities by using the CSE descriptors.

3.For Test Users

(1) Test users such as schools and employers will be able to select the appropriate test score boundary, by referring to the linking results and CSE level descriptors which meet their requirements of students’and candidates’English proficiency.

(2) Test users will have a clear understanding of their students’ or employees’ English proficiency, which are represented by test scores, by referring to the CSE level descriptors, so as to evaluate and select talents appropriately.