Comparing Predictive Validity of Islamic Azad University English Proficiency Test and Standard Proficiency Tests against a Socio-Cognitively Validated Test of English for Specific Purpose
In spite of the facts that validity is known as a unified concept in contemporary theory and practice, investigating the sub-construct of this concept enlightens the discipline to a great extent. Predictive validity of high-stakes tests such as English proficiency tests (EPTs) which are used for critical educational decisions is an example. EPT of Islamic Azad University (IAU), as a localized form of national and international scale proficiency tests, is served as an obligatory part of exit program for PhD candidates. Considering the fact that manipulating ESP texts is a major language learning goal in the university, the current research was an attempt to examine the predictive validity of IAU-EPT against a valid third measure in comparison with other EPT exams. To this aim, adopting Weir’s socio-cognitive framework, an ESP test of politics was developed and validated. Then, the test was administered to 19 PhD candidates of politics with IAU-EPT certification and 16 PhD candidates certified at other EPTs (TOEFL, GRE, and Tolimo). Pearson correlation was employed to investigate the relationship between their authorized EPT scores and their performance in a real context validated ESP test. The findings revealed a weak predicting value for IAU-EPT in a ESP task while a strong and significant correlation was reported between standard EPTs scores and ESP test. Further investigation is required to investigate the construct validity of IAU-EPT. Future researchers are recommended to include more participants from other disciplines. These findings have implications for language learners, language teachers, researchers and educational policy makers.