Investigating the Washback of High-Stakes Tests in Thailand

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Abstract This study is aimed to investigate the washback effect that is generated by the newly launched English entrance examination which is regarded as one of the most prominent high-stakes test in Thailand in order to provide the useful information to English teachers in Thailand. In so doing, all related studies on washback from other Asian countries are reviewed and then conceptualized to investigate the washback in Thailand. This study is conducted using the two conceptual frameworks of Alderson and Wall (1993) and of Bachman and Palmer (1996). In this study, it is expected to discovery the significant findings in the way that washback effect is generated this entrance examination. The washback of this high-stakes test is influential to both micro and macro level. To gain more understandings in washback effect in ELT in Thailand, further research on the washback in Thailand is needed because there is empirical nor official study on this issue up to present.

1 Statement of Purpose High-stakes tests or tests are used in high-stakes decision making and influence stakeholders, consisting of students, teachers, parents, programs, and society (Bachman & Palmer, 1996). They are generally known to generate washback on teaching and learning (Alderson & Wall, 1993; Luxia, 2005). In Asian countries, most high-stakes tests are national English tests: KSAT in South Korea and HKCEE in Hong Kong (Cheng, 1997; Kyung-Mi, 2001). It is reported that these tests generate some washback effect on teachers and students (Alderson & Wall, 1993; Cheng, 1997; Kyung-Mi, 2001; Luxia, 2005). Consequently, I conduct this study to investigate whether or not there is washback generated by any hi...

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...d some teachers, but not for others.

According to these hypotheses, researchers become more aware to investigate the possible areas that are affected by the tests. In addition to these washback hypotheses of Alderson and Wall (1993), I also use the framework of Bachman and Palmer (1996) in order to investigate in-depth washback of the high-stakes tests that have an influence in all associated people. For example, after students take the high-stakes test, they gain experiences in taking the test and know the test content. Then, students may response two ways: first, they may be motivated to study hard in order to retake the test; second, students may become test-oriented and ignore the content that is not appeared in the test. In this regard, it is seen that the high-stakes test can generate positive and negative washback which can affect the life of stakeholders.

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