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Upsing, Britta; Hayatli, Musab:

The challenges of test translation

In: Wilmers, Annika; Jornitz, Sieglinde (Hrsg.): International perspectives on school settings, educational policy and digital strategies : Opladen : Budrich (2021) , 373-388

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Test translation can easily go wrong. Just to give a few examples: In one PISA study the term 'space suit' was rendered as 'special suit' in the Spanish version and the item had to be dropped; in another higher-education study, the translated rubric talks about a 'goal scorer' instead of 'scorer', and in a school test 'early agrarian society' was rendered 'a society with agrarian industry'. These errors were detected before the tests were actually conducted as a result of translation quality control checks.³ These examples show how important it is to have professionals do the translations, using rigorous methodologies. While these examples may lead some to believe that it would be easier to simply write the tests in the language of the respondents with no translation involved, this is not an option for international tests or surveys, particularly in many countries that have more than one national language. [...] The goal of this article is to illustrate the challenges of test translation and to describe some of the measures that have been implemented to deal with these challenges. We will first explain what international large-scale assessment studies (iLSA) are: We will give a brief outline of their history; describe their contents, goals and their political impact. Next, we will use an actual test item from the PIAAC study as an example to illustrate which questions and difficulties come up when test items are translated. We will then describe the strategies that have been developed to deal with these translation challenges. Here we will mostly draw on strategies for the PISA- and PIAAC-tests. In the final section, we will discuss the remaining challenges, with a focus on the role of language in diverse societies. (DIPF/Orig.)

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