Tool to Evaluate Language Complexity of Test Items

WCER Working Paper No. 2013-05

H. Gary Cook and Rita MacDonald

July 2013, 44 pp.

ABSTRACT: This working paper describes a language complexity rubric and provides a description and sample rating materials for that rubric. Together these items comprise a method, or tool, for evaluating the language complexity of academic content achievement test items. This tool's aim is to inform educators, test developers, and test reviewers of the language demands required of students to respond to content assessment items. The purpose of this tool is to better understand how students with different English language proficiency levels perform on assessment items and tests with varying levels of language complexity. The working paper provides sample test items and passages from the NAEP website for reading, writing, and mathematics and a sample language complexity rating for each example item.

Full Paper

keywords: English language proficiency, language complexity, test development