Use of IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines and Issuing of Official IJͼ Tests


The purpose of this document is to describe the history of the IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines, current, official IJͼ tests and the circumstances under which official IJͼ ratings can be assigned to test taker performances.

What is the history of the IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines and Official IJͼ Tests?

In the late 1970s, IJͼ received a grant from IFLE, Title VI of the U.S. Department of Education to develop academically oriented proficiency guidelines instead of the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Scale. The ILR scale was used in government contexts and lacked detail at the lower proficiency levels; moreover, the ILR scale uses numbers instead of names to describe proficiency levels. The resulting product was the provisional IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines (1982), which were extensively reviewed by the field until 1986, when they were no longer termed “provisional.” IJͼ also worked to develop the IJͼ Oral Proficiency Interview (IJͼ OPI ®) and a professional development workshop (The IJͼ OPI Workshop®) to provide intensive professional development to language educators interested in learning how to apply the IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines in a standardized interview.

The 1986 IJͼ Proficiency Guideline-Speaking included four major proficiency levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Superior. The Novice and Intermediate levels were further subdivided into Low, Mid and High levels. The Advanced Level was divided into Advanced and Advanced Mid, while Superior had no sublevel designations.

In addition to criteria for speaking, IJͼ also developed criteria for listening, reading and writing; these domains are known as the IJͼ Proficiency Guideline-Listening/Reading/Writing; collectively, the scale is known as The IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines.

In 1999, IJͼ substantially revised the Guidelines. In addition to other changes, the IJͼ Advanced level was subdivided into three sublevels: Low, Mid and High. IJͼ invested a great deal of resources into both revising the Guidelines and providing recalibration professional development for already certified and new testers and workshop facilitators to re-calibrate them to the new Guidelines. IJͼ partnered with Peace Corps to develop exemplary videotaped interviews to demonstrate the features of each level for exclusive use by IJͼ and Peace Corps. In 2012, IJͼ further revised the Guidelines to further align language across levels and domains. Moreover, the Distinguished level was added to describe language beyond the Superior level.

In 2022, IJͼ began the process of revising the Guidelines to increase accessibility of language, align the Guidelines with other IJͼ teaching and learning documents (such as the World Language Readiness Standards for Learning Languages, the NCSSFL/IJͼ Can-Do Statements and the IJͼ Performance Descriptors for Language Learners) and to even better articulate language across levels and domains. As of February 2023, that work is still ongoing and is anticipated to be completed in 2023.

Who can use the IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines?

The IJͼ Proficiency Guidelines 2012 and any previous and subsequent versions may be used for non-profit, educational purposes only, provided that they are reproduced in their entirety, with no alterations, and with credit to IJͼ. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the examples in any form is prohibited other than for non-profit, educational purposes. You may not, except with IJͼ's express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit any media content. In other words, language instructors and not-for profit school entities may use the Guidelines for curriculum development, classroom-based assessment and to estimate learner progress toward proficiency. No other uses are authorized.

Which organizations can assign official IJͼ Proficiency ratings?

Official IJͼ ratings can only be provided on official IJͼ proficiency tests administered via IJͼ’s exclusive licensee, Language Testing International with certified IJͼ raters. Any rating issued by another organization/entity that claims such rating to be an “IJͼ rating” is unofficial and not valid.

Why are official IJͼ tests so important?

In addition to being the sole owner of the Guidelines, IJͼ developed all official tests in accordance with the Guidelines and based on the expertise of IJͼ staff and certified IJͼ testers and facilitators. All IJͼ tests are designed to elicit or assess language consistent with IJͼ Proficiency levels based on decades of rigorous certification procedures and expertise. Therefore, no organizations except IJͼ, via Language Testing International, our exclusive licensee, can provide official IJͼ ratings. Only official IJͼ tests are aligned to the Guidelines, developed by IJͼ-certified experts, supported by IJͼ resources, and reflect best practices in proficiency-based assessment- tasks and test items that accurately elicit, assess and report official IJͼ scores. Some organizations may use concordance tables to show how their test results align with IJͼ Proficiency levels. These tables simply show how a learner on their test is predicted to perform on an official IJͼ test. They do not reflect an alignment to the Guidelines.