Issues in Placement

    Summary: This testing project involves the development of a manual of best practices in placement in modern language programs. The focus is placed not only on traditional foreign language placement problems such as articulation between secondary and university programs but also such areas as the placement of heritage students and placement issues following study abroad programs.

    This testing project will involve the development of a manual for placement testing in modern language programs, with an emphasis on less commonly taught languages. The focus will be placed not only on traditional foreign language placement problems but will also address such areas as the placement of heritage students and placement issues arising after a year abroad. Placement is a key component of all language programs, yet very little research has been done to clearly examine what might be seen as “best practices.” We will conduct an extensive literature review on all aspects of placement procedures in foreign language programs. Further, we will survey a large sample of modern language departments (approximately 200) at a variety of different types of institutions throughout the United States, with particular emphasis on those institutions that offer the less commonly taught languages of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. We will coordinate this effort with the Title VI language and area studies centers for the above mentioned languages, as well as with their major professional organizations. To the extent possible, we will examine each component of the placement process: the preparation of materials and instructions to test takers, item generation, piloting, item analysis, test revision, and test validation. Follow-up phone interviews and analysis of placement tests currently in use will be carried out. At the end of the third year of the project (summer 2005), we will conduct a summer institute at the University of Hawa‘‘i on placement assessment for participants representing a variety of foreign languages. The goal of the institute will be not only to help the participants develop their skills at articulating and developing placement tests, but to provide them with tools to take back to their home institutions. A manual on “best practices” in foreign language placement testing will be produced in draft form prior to the summer institute and published in 2004. 


    Carry out literature review and administer national questionnaire on practices in placement testing


    • Conduct follow-up phone interviews and gather additional information for a manual on placement testing 
    • Analyze existing placement tests and testing practices 


    • Produce a manual on best practices in placement testing, send for external review, and revise 
    • Offer summer institute on Placement Testing with participants from around the United States 


    Publish manual on best practices in placement testing

    To view the results of the survey on current placement practices, go to