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The Effects of Language Proficiency on Test Performance
by Jacqueline Beals, James E. Arruda*, and Jennifer P. Peluso - Mercer University
The purpose of the present study was to examine whether students with limited English proficiency exhibit better test performance when given a minimally demanding language task (multiple-choice format) versus a maximally demanding language task (short-answer format). Thirty-three participants of different racial backgrounds took the Michigan Test of English Language Proficiency (MTELP; English Language Institute, 1979) to assess their level of English proficiency. The principal investigator randomly assigned English-proficient and limited English-proficient participants to 1 of 2 test format conditions: multiple choice or short answer. Results of the study suggest that limited English-language proficiency adversely affected test performance when the language demand of the test format was high (e.g., short answer). This finding supports the supposition that differences in performance between limited English-proficient students and English-proficient students on the multiple-choice and short-answer test formats were likely due to the differences in the language demand each test format imposed. Thus, students with limited English proficiency may perform as well as students with higher levels of English proÃžciency when given a minimally demanding language task.