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18 February 2018
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Why this Symposium
In the year 2001 the National Center for Assessment in Higher Education NCA was founded as a nonprofit, educational institution solely specializing in educational measurement. By the end of 2002 the first tool; namely, the General Ability Test was developed . GAT was a large scale and high stake test that became an admission requirement for all students applying for higher education. Not too long after that the NCA introduced another test, an achievement test, that became a national admission requirement as well. In the subsequent years, the NCA developed several other tests in different fields for different beneficiaries. Hence, considerable recognition locally and regionally was gained. It was then that some interested institutions, especially ministries, universities, colleges and corporations approached the NCA and requested tests in various fields ranging from educational to language to licensure.
The NCA invited and visited leading international testing organizations like :ETS and ACT of the USA, Pearson, Cambridge, CITO of the Netherlands and ACER of Australia. It exchanged with them professional experience and expertise. Since its inception in 2001, the NCA has produced about 70 tests. According to last year’s figures(2012 -2013), approximately 1,500,000 examinees took these tests. Relevant to this Symposium are the following tests:
Standardized Test of English Proficiency STEP.
English Placement Test EPT.
Standardized Test of Arabic Proficiency in Speakers of Other Languages STAPSOL.
These tests follow strict methodology in the way their items are written, reviewed, experimented, maintained and secured. In order to meet internationally recognized standards, these tests are made to insure reliability, validity and fairness to sex, region and level of study. In addition to achieving maximum quality assurance, the test items are written and reviewed by native speakers who are specialists in the fields of Arabic/English, applied linguistics and measurement. Their listening sections are recorded exclusively by native speakers. They are also in the process of being formally linked to the Common European Framework for languages (CEFR).
By formulating the Standardized Test of Arabic Proficiency in accordance with internationally established standards, the NCA has taken upon its shoulders to help develop the Arabic language in its area of concentration, with the hope that this test becomes an internationally accepted tool that measures language proficiency in Arabic learners in a way that is no less than the TOEFL or IELTS for English.
Likewise, the NCA is working on establishing a framework on the basis of which another standardized test would be put for the native speakers of Arabic. That will surely help in the enhancement of inputs and outputs of Arabic language programs. Finally, The NCA offers a test for the selection of teachers of Arabic in high and mid-high schools. The results of this test may also be used to diagnose points of strength and weakness in university programs that offer Arabic.
All NCA development projects and new measures are culminated in its newly put strategic plan which aspires for a global vision and a comprehensive mission.
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