“You cannot sit in the same time at the same chairs”: Preemptive test washback in Ukrainian EFL classrooms

Sally Jo Behrenwald

Abstract


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High-stakes testing in foreign languages for students finishing secondary school and planning to enter university has become more prevalent in recent years.  While the washback related to such scenarios has generally been thought of as negative, restricting the curriculum, high-stakes testing in foreign languages has also been seen as having positive outcomes.  While most prior studies of washback occurred after the test has been given, teachers may begin to change the way they teach, even before the first implementation of a test.  However, so far there has been little research on this “preemptive washback.”

The present study looks at preemptive washback in Ukrainian EFL classrooms based on the recently instituted external independent testing of foreign languages for university-bound secondary school graduates.  A qualitative perspective is used, and data was analyzed using content analysis.  Results suggest that testing may lead to both positive and negative washback in the teaching of English, even before the first implementation of the test.  Domains of washback affected include curriculum and materials.


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