Bilingual Testing

A problem that arises in bilingual testing is that some persons are partial speakers of two languages, but not totally competent in either. In these cases, the respondent might answer in English sometimes and Spanish sometimes. We ran into this situation in preschool readiness testing with Hispanic children in Florida.

The Woodcock/Muñoz-Sandoval approach (RMT 7:4 p. 329) is designed for first language speakers of different languages. It equates parallel tests, then transforms measures on the non-English language form to their English equivalent. But a simple translation of a test into another language ignores cultural bias - for example, a cross has specific cultural significance for Hispanic preschoolers.

We took a different approach with the Rasch model. We pooled responses from Spanish and English forms and calibrated the items together. Then we used the person "between" (Hispanic students vs. Anglo students) fit statistic provided by IPARM (Smith 1991) to compare Hispanic and English cultural bias on each item, without regard to the language that the student used when responding. Mixed language responses were allowed. Credit was given when the answer was correct in either language.

The person between fit statistic proved more sensitive to bias than the usual fit statistics. We were able to identify items for inclusion, exclusion or editing in a bilingual test, so avoiding the need for equated test versions and equivalent measures. Without this approach, the more or less unpredictable use of two languages simultaneously could render some preschoolers unmeasurable.

Steve Lang 1994 RMT 8:1 p. 343
University of South Florida at St. Petersburg

Rasch publications in Spanish - Español Anàlisis - Glosario Español - Spanish Glossary - Español-Inglés del diccionario - Spanish-English Dictionary - Dr. Agustín Tristàn Lòpez language introduction to Diseño de Mejores Pruebas (Best Test Design)
Book PDFDiseño de Mejores Pruebas - Spanish-language translation of Best Test Design (Wright & Stone, 1979)

Bilingual testing. Lang S. … Rasch Measurement Transactions, 1994, 8:1 p.343

Rasch Publications
Rasch Measurement Transactions (free, online) Rasch Measurement research papers (free, online) Probabilistic Models for Some Intelligence and Attainment Tests, Georg Rasch Applying the Rasch Model 3rd. Ed., Bond & Fox Best Test Design, Wright & Stone
Rating Scale Analysis, Wright & Masters Introduction to Rasch Measurement, E. Smith & R. Smith Introduction to Many-Facet Rasch Measurement, Thomas Eckes Invariant Measurement: Using Rasch Models in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, George Engelhard, Jr. Statistical Analyses for Language Testers, Rita Green
Rasch Models: Foundations, Recent Developments, and Applications, Fischer & Molenaar Journal of Applied Measurement Rasch models for measurement, David Andrich Constructing Measures, Mark Wilson Rasch Analysis in the Human Sciences, Boone, Stave, Yale
in Spanish: Análisis de Rasch para todos, Agustín Tristán Mediciones, Posicionamientos y Diagnósticos Competitivos, Juan Ramón Oreja Rodríguez

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