Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Writing and Speaking Assessment Scales and Handbooks

I'd been waiting for the new Handbooks for the Cambridge ESOL exams to appear on the website.  I'd heard they were coming out.

So when I received my ezine from Teacher Support yesterday with the links to the handbooks, I thought I'd write about them on this blog.

Handbooks for TeachersThis month we have published the new Handbooks for Teachers. These handbooks contain an overview of the exam and its place within Cambridge ESOL. This is followed by a focus on each paper and includes: content, advice on preparation, example papers and speaking and writing assessment scales where appropriate.

Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE) Handbook 
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Handbook
Cambridge English: First (FCE) Handbook
Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET) Handbook
Cambridge English: Key (KET) Handbook
Cambridge English: Business Certificates (BEC) Handbook
Cambridge English: Young Learners (YLE) Handbook

The sample materials for the different papers in each exam is the same.

So, what's different about the new handbooks?

The new Speaking and Writing Scales!

Here is some information on the new Writing Scales, taken from the Preliminary Handbook:

Assessment scales
Examiners mark tasks using assessment scales that were developed with explicit reference to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The scales, which are used across the spectrum of Cambridge ESOL’s General and Business English Writing tests, consist of four subscales: Content, Communicative Achievement, Organisation, and Language:
Content focuses on how well the candidate has fulfilled the task, in other words if they have done what they were asked to do.
Communicative Achievement focuses on how appropriate the writing is for the task and whether the candidate has used the appropriate register.
Organisation focuses on the way the candidate puts together the piece of writing, in other words if it is logical and ordered.
Language focuses on vocabulary and grammar. This includes the range of language as well as how accurate it is.

Responses are marked on each subscale from 0 to 5.

And the great news is that the same areas are assessed from Cambridge English: Key up to Cambridge English: Proficiency.  A 5 at Key would be awarded a 3 at Preliminary and a 1 at First.

Check out the remarked sample writing scripts in the handbooks.  The examples really make the different areas of assessment clear I feel.

The same thing happens with the Speaking Scales.

I for one approve!


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